ExhibitionsReview

Images of startling intimacy

A remarkable new, large-format book of photography and text, FRANS Families, offers a rare insight into the hidden daily lives of people with disabilities and their families.

Emily Dash and her mother Anne from the Faces of [dis]Ability exhibition. Emily is Vice-President of the Board of FRANS, an arts graduate from Sydney University and a beneficiary of FRANS services. (Photo: Lorraine MacLarty)
Emily Dash and her mother Anne from the Faces of [dis]Ability exhibition. Emily is Vice-President of the Board of FRANS, an arts graduate from Sydney University and a beneficiary of FRANS services. (Photo: Lorraine MacLarty)

The photographer, Lorraine MacLarty, spent a year visiting 12 families and documenting their lives. Each of the families receives services from the inner-west disability service, FRANS, which has provided inclusion and support services for people with disabilities for over 30 years.

“Each of the 12 families was asked to allow me into their daily lives,” MacLarty explains, “with the understanding that they would continue their normal routine and that I would be as unobtrusive as possible.”

The result is images of startling intimacy. A selection of the work, curated by Sandy Edwards, was exhibited at the Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst in May as part of the Head On Photo Festival. This participation in a mainstream photographic festival reflects the fundamental commitment of MacLarty and FRANS to inclusion as a core principle.

“Little attention has been paid to photographing people with disabilities,” MacLarty says. “I want to improve community perceptions by presenting difficult issues with sensitivity, dignity and respect, using the genres of portraiture and social concern documentary.”

The images of mothers and daughters are especially striking and deeply moving. They show the great bond that prolonged mutual dependence and physical care can create, as well as the stresses. “I express my deepest appreciation to each family who allowed me into their lives,” MacLarty says. “It was often a joyous and uplifting experience; at times emotional and heart-wrenching.”

FRANS Families costs $100 and all proceeds go to FRANS. To obtain a copy, contact Peter Schneider at FRANS Inc., PO Box 210 Croydon 2132, or phone 9797 5316. Lorraine MacLarty can be contacted at www.lorrainemaclarty.com.

Julie McCrossin is the Patron of FRANS (Making Things Happen for People with Disabilities) www.frans.com.au.

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