In 2016, Mark Ware was invited to be part of the CEDA charity’s Total Immersion project (2016-18) by the charity’s Manager Craig Bowden, and its PR consultant Gillian Taylor. Following the success of Mark’s Total Immersion contribution, he accepted the role of being CEDA’s Photographer/Artist in residence.
This new artistic role involves two types of activities:
- Developing and delivering new artworks that have been produced in collaboration with CEDA’s users.
Mark commented, “The new artworks are a continuation of my portraits of CEDA users. My interest in portraiture is due to my own disability (stroke) and how it has affected my perception of self, and how it has also affected how others perceive me. When I had a stroke, my life changed suddenly and dramatically, and with that change I found that other people treated me differently, often appearing to superficially judge me by my ‘disabled appearance’. When I began exploring ways of creating portraits of CEDA’s disabled users, this was at the forefront of my thinking and I felt that the following were some of the questions that needed to be asked:
- Is it possible to create a photographic portrait of a person with a visible disability that conveys the ‘true person’?
- Who is the portrait for? For example, is it for me the artist, for the sitter, or for the people who will see the finished portrait (aside from me and the sitter)?
- Can a photographic portrait of a person with visible disabilities, that captures one moment in time, possibly convey the complexities and depth of the sitter that can only be experienced over a period of time?
- In order to make photographic portraits of people with visible disabilities ‘acceptable’ to non-disabled audiences, do I need to ensure that the portraits don’t contain disability-related details that might cause offense to audiences?
“Photography has been the starting-point for the portraiture – eventually I want to expand it into a multimedia realm. During the development of the portraits so far, I have immersed the sitters in a multisensory experience, by varying the type of locations for the photography, by involving their feedback wherever possible during the creative process, and by working with the same group of people over a long period of time in order to build up mutual trust, respect and understanding.
“More recently, this work has begun to overlap into my nature-influenced projects. Acting as a creative facilitator, I took photographs directed by CEDA users, of the natural landscaping that surrounds the CEDA building in Exeter. Using Photoshop to process and edit the photographs, again the CEDA users directed me after I demonstrated what was creatively possible.”
- Photographically documenting CEDA’s day-to-day activities for publicity and information purposes.
Mark is using his commercial photography experience to help document CEDA’s work. The aim is to convey the four words that led to the creation of the CEDA name: ‘Community, Equality, Disability, Action’.
On 8th November 2019 at Exeter Cathedral England, violinist Patricia Calnan staged a performance of Arvo Part’s ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’. The music accompanied the above video of Mark’s CEDA portraits and nature photography that formed part of his creative exploration of disability and perception of self.