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By Heart of England Mencap, Sep 12 2017 02:02PM


THE PHOTOGRAPHIC skills and visions of local people with learning disabilities is getting an international showcase by going on display at Shakespeare’s New Place.


Through The Lens - the culmination of a three-month photography course run by Heart of England Mencap at its day activity group, Pathway – was first exhibited in Stratford back in March.


And now its reaching an even bigger audience - back for a six-week stint in the exhibition space at New Place, Shakespeare’s adult home, thanks to an invitation from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.


The exhibition launched on Friday (September 8) – and also includes a promotional display for Heart of England Mencap, which supports people with learning disabilities across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.


The photos being exhibited have all been captured by Mencap customers as part of a photography course. Armed with tablets funded by Stratford Town Trust, Orbit Group and Stratford District Council, they immersed themselves in the photographic process from top to bottom.


They chose locations and subject matters, snapped the perfect picture on their tablets and then uploaded, edited and printed their creations ready to be showcased.


The course was such a success it has since been repeated across the charity’s day services in Studley, Warwick, Leamington and Malvern. The exhibition at Shakespeare’s New Place will be rotated, to allow photos from each course to be displayed.


Val Rainbow, Heart of England Mencap’s Arts Co-ordinator, said: “Our photography course was based on different themes to help develop a variety of skills and to make the learning process enjoyable and interesting.


“Over the weeks we visited many outdoor locations and covered everything from windows and doors, to leaves and trees, buildings and architecture, textures, close-ups, still life, flowers and portraits.


“Everyone on the course produced really great work. It was a joy to watch them discover newfound skills – and to see their work now on display somewhere as prominent as New Place is just wonderful.”


Heart of England Mencap and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have forged a strong local partnership – with Mencap customers and staff part of the Access Panel set-up to guide the £6 million transformation of Shakespeare’s New Place.


They continue to advise on both physical access, and on making sure everything from the signage to the displays is accessible to people with learning and physical disabilities.
They continue to advise on both physical access, and on making sure everything from the signage to the displays is accessible to people with learning and physical disabilities.

Emma Birks, Volunteer and Community Outreach Officer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We are extremely proud to work with Heart of England Mencap on this photography exhibition. This project enables the skills of young people and adults with learning disabilities to shine through and it’s fantastic that we are able to provide a platform for them to present their creativity to a wider audience. The community board at New Place is a great space for community groups to showcase their talent and we look forward to working with local groups on new commissions.”


For more information on the community board at Shakespeare’s New Place see https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/shakespeares-new-place/community-board/


Life through the Lens is on display until October 20th, upstairs in the exhibition centre.


Normal New Place admission prices apply, with entry free for CV37 residents (with proof of address).

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