Mencap’s popular Snap! competition has gone from strength to strength since it started in 2003, writes Daniel Lombard
Photography and film contest Snap! provides the perfect medium for fulfilling Mencap’s central role: to give people with learning disabilities a voice.
Now Mencap is taking a selection of the winning photographs around England for the second year running with a free open-air exhibition, This is Me.
The first stop was London, where six outdoor cubes offering colourful answers to the question “what does it feel like to have a learning disability?” were planted in a corner of Leicester Square for 10 days.
The photographs, taken by or featuring one or more people with learning disabilities, tell stories of friendships, activism, reflection and fun.
Some have real artistic merit. For example, Puddle, by John Woods, shows the photographer’s friend, Tim, on a tricycle riding through a puddle on a country track. The black and white image captures a carefree moment in their lives as Tim’s bright, vivid grin lights up the dense landscape around him.
Others are from the traditional world of day centres, such as the women taking part in woodwork and clay modelling classes.
But the pictures that made me smile were those showing the happiness derived from personal relationships.
Cue and Break shows Marion Willis and her partner standing proudly at a snooker table, their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders. Marion writes in her caption this simple statement, made all the more poignant given the loneliness and isolation too often associated with learning disability: “Our relationship is true love and it makes us feel very happy.”
My one complaint is that the photographers’ surnames are missing from the captions – an unusual omission other than in children’s exhibitions. Despite this, This is Me is stamped with the bold personalities and vivid identities of some of Britain’s 1.5 million people with learning disabilities.
This review is published in the 16 July issue of Community Care magazine under the heading Learning disabilities in focus