Blast Reporter Suzanne Lee
Hull-Born Harley Alison and charities PhotoVoice and KIDS introduce Suzanne Lee to photography without boundaries.
Harley is a fourteen year old with a difference, that difference being she is an exceptionally talented photographer. This talent combined with her charming nature smashes through the fact that she is 100% blind.
Harley's photo in tactile print
Photographing things she can feel, Harley's photographs often feature her hands as a way of connecting with the photo. Once the photos are taken they are then photo-shopped to remove the colour and printed as a raised image, giving Harley the opportunity to assess the image taken. Surprisingly, I am informed the printing process costs a grand total of 36 pence per picture, a bargain and also a cost effective way of making her photographs accessible to all.
What is striking about Harley's work is the captions she provides with each photo. A glimpse at how Harley views the world and the photo image she has taken. 'Time to move on' is one such caption that this expressive young lady has used to describe her shell picture. "The shells made me think how snails move on to different homes and it made me think that I would like to move on in my life, and being blind is not a barrier for me", Harley writes as the motivation for the caption.
The vehicle for Harley's talent has been the charities KIDS and PhotoVoice. Photo-Voice is a charity working world-wide enabling those who wouldn't normally have the chance to express themselves through photography to do so. Working with disadvantaged groups everywhere from Afghanistan to here in East Yorkshire, PhotoVoice's web page explains "its projects enable those who are traditionally the subjects of photography to be its creator. Through photography these individuals find confidence in their voices and are enabled to speak out about their challenges, concerns, hopes and fears".
Inspiration from the bowling alley
Attending the Young Persons Inclusion group at KIDS, in Hull, Harley was introduced to PhotoVoice and following KIDS day trips to the park, a bowling alley, Hull Fair and photography sessions in her own home, she was given the settings and inspiration to produce her innovative work. When asked Harley names "The sand in my hands" as her favourite photo, produced from a KIDS outing to the beach.
Using photography as her creative outlet, Harley has built up a portfolio of evocative photographs her most recent collection being of her favourite things. The classic perfume Sunflowers, Harley's favourite, is used as the inspiration for her photograph 'Hear me coming, smell me coming'. The caption aptly captures Harley's thoughts on the piece. She wrote "I chose 'Hear me coming, smell me coming' to represent the fact that I am blind. Instead of people saying they can see me coming I felt this would not include blind people. So with my voice and the scent of perfume people who are blind would hear me coming and smell me coming".
'Hear me coming, smell me coming'
Harley's creative voice is now being heard loud and clear and this budding talent has recently seen her win a PhotoVoice bursary for her work. Plans to showcase her photographs are currently underway with an exhibition of her work being shown at both Cardiff University and at the Hull and East Riding Institute for the blind.
Asking the gifted teenager what she would most like to photograph she replies "my Mum's beautiful face" which was meet by a flurry of blushes from her proud Mum, Jill Brice.
With two exhibitions in the pipeline, Harley, at the grand age of fourteen, has already achieve outstanding success as a photographer. Her dream is to pursue a career as a photographer and holding her work in my hands, there is clear proof that she has the talent and skills to achieve it.
last updated: 09/09/2008 at 14:42