A surf champion, BBC journalist, musician, student and rugby player are among those featuring in Local Hero, an exhibition by AUB graduate Jon Mackenzie using emotionally powerful imagery to ask the public to consider the subject of mental health.

With more than 80 people taking their own lives in the region each year, AUB BA and MA Commercial Photography graduate Jon Mackenzie has been commissioned to work on a joint project between Cornwall Council, Wavelength and the male suicide prevention charity CALM, to photograph a range of subjects who’ve all been affected by mental health.

Developed by Jon after the success of his masculine post-graduate work, Man Up, which looks at the depiction of men epitomising masculine stereotypes, the St Agnes-based exhibition Local Hero forms a series of interactive installations, photography and audio stories, which aim to trigger discussions around mental health.

Jon, who studied both his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees at AUB, has been a visiting tutor in photography and worked as an assistant producer and in-house photographer prior to starting his own business as a freelance professional.

Jon said: “Studying my BA really helped me break into the industry and take on some quite varied roles within photography. Returning to AUB, my MA developed my work and it began to represent me more as a person. I was shooting briefs that resonated with me, rather than those of clients or other people, and I developed my own aesthetic, honing in on my own practice as a creator.”

“I hope that when people see the exhibition and interact with the stories, people will feel more comfortable talking about mental health.  As a person who’s struggled with mental health, I’m working to reverse the stigma around the subject.”

He added: “I see mental health as a challenge, rather a problem, and that needs to be acknowledged more widely. People can and should seek help as they would for any other injury or illness.”