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Sexy is a state of mind

An empowering exhibition

Sexy is a state of mind

This was the theme at the opening night of Intimate Encounters: Disability and Sexuality, an international photographic exhibition by Belinda Mason-Lovering who last week received one of the prestigious Moran Photographic awards.

Over a hundred people attended the opening which was initialled by Tiaho Trust in association with DPA Northland and sponsored by Henderson Reeves Connell Rishworth Lawyers.

A diverse cross section of the Whangarei community converged at the Whangarei Community Arts Centre to view the forty photographic works that depict sexuality of disabled individual’s in their own context.

Ian Reeves, principal partner of Henderson Reeves Connell Rishworth Lawyers said “I have just been stunned by this exhibition; I think it is beautiful”. He went on to say that the firm feel very privileged to be a part of this exhibition and hopes that it will provoke a lot of discussion within the community.

The exhibition focuses on the idea that sexual intimacy is a human right for everybody. Jeni Claris, DPA Northland President said that “One of the things disabled people aspire to is to lead an ordinary life”. However for a lot of disabled people, especially those in institutional care, leading an ordinary life doesn’t include sex. How sad it is to have a life where people don’t have friends and are not given a chance to enjoy what many of us enjoy. By blocking people’s sexuality, what you are actually doing is blocking peoples being.

This exhibition is about getting the public to see people with disabilities as people first and foremost rather than their disability experience. “This exhibition goes a long way to breaking down misconceptions about people with disabilities and sexuality” said Denise Beckwith, one of the models who not only exposed her body to Belinda, but also her soul and her most intimate emotions and feelings allowing Belinda to translate them into the beautiful image of ‘The Mermaid’.

It was great to see not only the disability community at the exhibition but also members of the general community as these are the people that the artist is trying to reach and educate.

Feedback from the opening has been overwhelming with comments such as “One of the best and most thought provoking exhibitions I have ever seen”, “Touching, moving and inspiring. Well done for leading out on such a beautiful exhibition”, “A wonderful, insightful exhibition. The written stories beside the photos gave a good insight into the subjects, their life and challenges, highly recommended”.

While the show has only been open since Friday there has been strong interest from the public with over 200 people passing through on just Monday and Tuesday. People are spending a long time at the gallery and there has been a lot of positive feedback reports Jenny Barrett from the Community Arts Promotion Trust.

The exhibition is showing until the end of March at the Community Arts Centre in the Old Library, 7 Rust Ave. There will be a one off viewing of the exhibition on Saturday 29th March from 9am to 2pm for people who cannot view the exhibition during the week.

Tiaho Trust would really appreciate hearing peoples’ thoughts on the exhibition. You can fill out an evaluation form or the attendance book at the gallery or give feedback by adding a comment to this article by visiting www.tiaho.org.nz.

Ends

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