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Dumfries and Galloway Carers in National Portrait Exhibition
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers
A significant exhibition of carers’ portraits, 24 hours, which was launched at the Scottish Parliament last September, will open in Gracefield Arts Centre on Wednesday 13 February.

24 hours is a series of portraits of carers, each one showing the carer seated on the sofa in their own home alongside the person they care for. In some portraits, it is impossible to tell who is the carer and who is the cared for person; in others, it is very obvious.

Every portrait has a brief explanation alongside, using the carer’s own words to explain their caring role. The carers portrayed come from all over Scotland and include two carers from Dumfries. One of them is Lesley, who cares for her daughter Darcy, who is autistic.

Lesley and Darcy’s portrait is particularly arresting. ‘Darcy has severe autism with associated learning difficulties,’ says Lesley, ‘but attending a mainstream school has been very good for her as she has lots of role models. Our main difficulty with Darcy is her lack of speech, although we are now using Signalong to help us communicate, which makes it easier for her to let us know what she wants.’

The portraits were taken by Hannah Hills, a rising young star in portrait photography, one of whose portraits was exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in 2005.

All the portraits have been reproduced in an art quality catalogue, which will accompany the exhibition as it tours Scotland. The catalogue includes a foreword by HRH The Princess Royal, President of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, who says: ‘Carers need recognition so that they can access the support which will enable them to continue to care without compromising their own health and wellbeing.’

This is Hannah Hills’ first solo exhibition. She says: ‘One of the enduring memories from visiting everyone is the laughter and great sense of humour, often in very difficult circumstances. It was a privilege to be involved in this project and to see the work of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers at first hand.’

Ruth Clark, acting director of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland, says: ‘We want to make people aware of the fact that carers exist and that the unpaid work they carry out at home is vital to our society.

'A carer could be someone you meet on the bus, it could be someone you work with, it could be someone who lives in your street or it could be the person standing next to you. It could be you.’

The Princess Royal Trust Dumfries and Galloway carers’ centre supports carers of all ages, no matter what their circumstances, throughout Dumfries and Galloway. The carers’ centre is based at 2-6 Nith Street, Dumfries and can be contacted on 01 387 248 600.

Gracefield Arts Centre is situated at 28 Edinburgh Road, Dumfries. 24 hours will be on view there from 13 February to 14 March and entrance to the exhibition is free. Thereafter, 24 hours will tour Scotland until 2009.

Text by All Media Scotland

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