Award-winning photographer to capture stories of mental health

Siân Davey commissioned by Wellcome.

Wellcome has commissioned award-winning photographer Siân Davey to produce a new photography series, ‘Testament,’ intimately exploring the link between depression, anxiety and families living in poverty. This series is based on the 2020 theme of the Wellcome Photography Prize – mental health.

Siân Davey is an award-winning photographer, based in south-west England. Following a 15-year career as a psychotherapist, Davey launched her image-making career in 2014, drawing on professional experiences to inform her work. Her community-centred photography is an investigation of her own psychological landscapes and of those around her.

Producing stills in colour film, this new series Testament, will explore the relationship between income and mental health. To do this, Davey will initially work intimately, sensitively and collaboratively with families as they go about their daily lives. This commission will not only provide a voice for the women’s stories, but seeks to expose the direct relationship between poverty, depression and anxiety within society.

Davey said: “I am delighted to have been selected by Wellcome to produce a new photography commission alongside the Wellcome Photography Prize 2020. I am focusing on telling the stories of single mothers, in south-west England. In my experience as a psychotherapist, I have directly seen the isolating impacts of depression. Economic insecurity compounds the problem, adding mental health to the issues of worries these families have to deal with. There are very few photographic responses to the relationship between mental health and austerity measures. I look forward to sharing progress as the commission develops over the next few months.”

Professor Miranda Wolpert, Head of Mental Health at Wellcome, said: “There is a real need to find fresh visual narratives in relation to mental health problems. It is too easy to fall back on the same images such as despairing heads in hands, sometimes referred to as ‘headclutcher’ shots. Wellcome is seeking better visual representations of the diverse experiences of living with or recovering from mental health problems. We are really excited to have commissioned Siân Davey to work on this series and shine a light on the mental health experiences of the families she is collaborating with.”

Photo: ‘Alice sitting with stranger,’ from Siân Davey’s series: Looking for Alice

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