Hepatitis See artists tackle stigma through GoMA event

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A nationwide art project, “Hepatitis See”, which explores identity and stigma issues faced by people affected by hepatitis C will feature at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Glasgow on World Hepatitis Day on the 28th of July. The artwork also portrays the contrasting identities people possess before and after treatment, showing the positive impact treatment has on people’s lives.


The project, developed through a partnership between Scottish charities and a number of local NHS boards, deals with the everyday issues that living with hepatitis C in Scotland brings. Art workshops have taken place in cities across Scotland to help people express the mental and physical challenges people living with hepatitis C face.


Other exhibition materials include three 7 foot high aluminium Cs, decorated by workshop participants and a representation of what a supervised drug consumption facility, as proposed for Glasgow, would look like, juxtaposed with a display of open ground where drug users currently inject.


A workshop participant and Hepatitis C Trust peer support worker, Jim Clark, said about the project: “This is a good opportunity for the public to see how stigma can affect an individual’s self-esteem. It’s fascinating to see the different ways people choose to express their emotions through artwork, and the different experience of life people have before and after hepatitis C treatment. It shows that treatment can and does end with positive outcomes.”


The exhibition is in the gallery space left vacant by Marlie Mul’s controversial view of the cost of artistic engagement with the public in “This Exhibition Has Been Cancelled”. GoMA has used the space to look at the artist’s questioning of how the public can better engage with art and has allowed charities and other groups to stage events in the large ground floor gallery.


Prizes for the art and photography sections of the project will be announced and presented in a ceremony at 2pm. Prizes include Scotland bus tours courtesy of Rabbie’s Tours, Art on a Postcard artworks, and £250 worth of digital photography vouchers donated by the late Alex Murray, a keen photographer and founding member of The National Hepatitis C Patient Forum.


Hepatitis Scotland’s Leon Wylie said, “Someone’s view of themselves or a particular behaviour can have a massive impact on whether they engage in healthier choices. The artworks can show how people are affected by stigma and what that stigma may look like.


Sometimes other people are not aware that their behaviour stigmatises someone. If they are made aware, then at least they have the chance to change it. We are very grateful to GoMA for giving us such a unique opportunity to engage with the public”.


David Cameron from Waverley Care, said, “It was great to be involved in hosting some of the Hepatitis See workshops, supporting people to express themselves and to share their experiences in a positive way that raises greater awareness of hepatitis C.”


Positive Support's Marc Simpson said, “Many don’t feel talented and haven’t done anything like this since school. It was good to see them get their feelings on paper. It let them experiment and really boosted their self-esteem. We’re looking forward to seeing familiar names hanging on the walls at GoMA.”


Art in Healthcare, which facilitated some of the workshops in Coatbridge and Edinburgh, said: “We’re proud to be involved in this project, in which participants explore identity, convey ideas and build self-esteem through artistic expression.”


“Cut off from Life” by Deni. Photo credit: Andy Coffey, Scottish Drugs Forum


Photo credit: Jim Byrne, www.beginnersguidephotography.com



Notes to editors

  1. The project “Hepatitis See” has been developed by Hep C Scot, a collective of charities and NHS boards which organises the annual national campaign for World Hepatitis Day in Scotland. Its core members are: Hepatitis Scotland, Waverley Care, Addaction, Positive Help, Hepatitis C Trust and Scottish NHS boards. Other organisations which were involved in the project include: Scottish Drugs Forum, Art in Healthcare, Forth Valley Recovery Community, Reach Advocacy, Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust, CAIR Scotland, University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Rabbie’s Tours and Art on a Postcard.
  2. World Hepatitis Day, observed on 28 July each year, aims to raise global awareness of hepatitis and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment. It is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the WHO.
  3. It is estimated that 37,100 people in Scotland are living with hepatitis C. 16,800 are estimated to still be undiagnosed.
  4. Art workshops took place in Ayrshire & Arran, Forth Valley (Falkirk), Greater Glasgow and Clyde (Glasgow), Lanarkshire (Coatbridge), Lothian (Edinburgh) and Tayside (Dundee). Participating NHS health boards were NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Lothian and NHS Tayside.
  5. Workshop participant Jim Clark is available for interview. Contact Lesley Bon, Patient Involvement Officer at Hepatitis Scotland, lesleyb@hepatitisscotland.org.uk, 07771561890
  6. Hepatitis Scotland is the national voluntary sector organisation funded by the Scottish Government to help improve responses to viral hepatitis prevention, treatment and support.
  7. Waverley Care is a charity which provides care and support to people living with hepatitis C or HIV in Scotland.
  8. Positive Support is a Lanarkshire based agency that supports individuals, families and communities affected by blood borne viruses.
  9. Art in Healthcare is the leading arts provider for health organisations in Scotland.
  10. Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) works with professional artists to break down barriers and provide access into the arts, delivering creative engagement programmes for people living with long term conditions.
  11. Press contact: Leon Wylie, Lead Officer, Hepatitis Scotland, leon@hepatitisscotland.org.uk, 07872818615 / Lesley Bon, Patient Involvement Officer, Hepatitis Scotland, lesleyb@hepatitisscotland.org.uk, 07771561890


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