Award-winning photographer and academic Professor Paul Wenham-Clarke’s exhibition Our Human Condition, held at gallery@oxo at London’s Oxo Tower until Sunday 19 January, will delve into the human impact of genetic conditions through sibling relationships.
Professor Wenham-Clarke, who leads Arts University Bournemouth’s MA Commercial Photography programme, spent two years documenting the lives of families across the UK investigating how they cope with varying degrees of disability, investigating their struggles, goals and motivations.
The photographer, who has won numerous professional awards including an Association of Photographers Gold Award has featured on BBC2’s Culture Show, and has previously exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Somerset House and St Martin-in-the-Fields Gallery.
Professor Wenham-Clarke’s work is linked by a strong desire to communicate with the public on social and environmental issues, whether it is the loss of human (When Lives Collide) and animal life on our roads (Sacrifice the Birdsong), or the terrible plight of our homeless (Hard Times), or as in the case of his latest book Urban Gypsies – a community fighting to project its cultural identity.
He said: “In recent years, science has made big strides in understanding the human genome and these potentially will revolutionise the treatment of people with genetic conditions. This exhibition represents a snapshot of society and our attitudes towards disability, in a time that is on the cusp of a wave of change.
“We learn how the siblings’ lives are different and yet deeply intertwined. The human condition is defined as the positive or negative aspects of being human, such as birth, growth, reproduction, love and death.”
He added: “Those involved talked about how their relationship has worked and changed through their lives. The images and stories in this exhibition reveal how the families are very proud of who they are and their worth to wider society.”
The stories cover familiar conditions, such as Down’s Syndrome, as well as very rare conditions like DOORS syndrome, with only six documented cases seen in the UK.
Austin Leclaire, a sibling affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy along with his brother Max, is currently taking part in the first ever human trials of a new drug designed to slow the progression of the disorder.