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Gems Kirkpatrick

Gems Kirkpatrick

"I am a self-portrait artist & photographer with Muscular Dystrophy, Anxiety, Depression and Bipolar Affective Disorder type 2. I used to work in a neuro-rehabilitation department for the NHS. Muscular Dystrophy meant I had to give up the job I loved, so naturally at the time, I was distraught.

A little while after being deemed medically unfit for work, and following a period of depression and a diagnosis of Bipolar Affective Disorder, I decided to get a camera & slowly over a few years taught myself to take photos. At first, I saw photography as a hobby to fill the days where I once worked. I didn’t expect to keep going with it but as I experienced more progression with the disease, I started to document my journey by taking photos of my body in nude form as a way of expressing myself.

I was very aware of feeling out of control of my situation & I wanted to gain back some control. Self portrait fine art photography has helped me on my way to doing just that. I wanted to document the changes & see if it could help anyone else going through a similar situation, especially in regards to mental health and body confidence and attitudes surrounding this.

I found it helpful to document the struggles, the trials, pain, isolation & heartache, which I was personally experiencing with this disease. I also documented the achievements, lessons in body confidence, building on acceptance with the constant changes in abilities & at the same time creating a space to feel freedom no longer confined by my disease.

Making unique art using my own body to tell a story & raise much-needed awareness at the same time is now so ingrained in me and I am in the process of writing a book about the journey of fine art photography and the positive outcome it has had on my battle with mental health illness alongside my physical disability.

Strength is upping your game, when you want to give in."

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