- Reflections in Colour, launched on 10 May 2021, is a series of pictures born of the friendship between a businessman and a successful cinematographer
- Josh Wintersgill, 27, from Wells, has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
- He is one of 50 people with different muscle-wasting conditions who are featured in the exhibition reflecting on how the pictures make them feel
- A percentage of profits from the exhibition will be donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK)
When Josh’s muscle-wasting condition progressed, and made travelling by air increasingly difficult, he founded his own company to help people like him explore new possibilities with safety, dignity and comfort. ‘Able Move’ has won several awards, including UK Disabled Entrepreneur and Great Britain’s Best Young Entrepreneur. And successfully secured significant investment. Besides his business, Josh campaigns to improve accessible air travel, and he provides ground-breaking research about disabled passengers for the aviation industry.
He said: “I am also a lover of technology, having spent five years working in tech after graduating from University West of England in IT management and business. In 2019, I received an Honorary Masters in Technology. Last, but not least, I am an aspiring Paralympian for Great Britain in air-rifle.
For Reflections in Colour, Josh chose to comment on the photo called ‘Timeless Rye Harbour’.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I went on a holiday I will never forget – sailing in the Caribbean with my dad and the Jubilee Sailing Trust. This photo reminds of that life-changing holiday. The small boats here represent me and my dad, sailing together and coming into shore after battling the calm and, in places, bumper open waters in the Caribbean Sea. The shore here reminds me of when I was winched over the ship’s side into a smaller boat and placed into a beach wheelchair before going up the beach for lobster and beer. The crystal-clear blue water and clear sky here bring transparency to the mind, a sense of calmness and tranquillity, as well as a moment in time where life feels fulfilled. It is critical for those who have neuromuscular conditions to have a very positive mind-set and this picture represents just that.”
Andrew Robertson, who volunteers as a peer-to-peer supporter for MDUK, and his friend, Chris Howard, developed the exhibition together. Alongside each picture, Andrew recorded the thoughts of 50 people from all over the UK. They all have muscle-wasting conditions and they included pictures of themselves and brief descriptions of their lives. Most of them are friends Andrew has made along his journey of being diagnosed with a muscle-wasting condition himself.
Retired Director of Photography, Chris has worked in film and television all over the world, with credits from film classics like North Sea Hijack and International Velvet, through countless commercials, documentaries and television shows including Minder, Peak Practice and Soldier Soldier and, more recently, New Tricks and Doc Martin.
He has created all the photographs. The exhibition, which features very high-quality prints which are mounted on Foamex 3mm board and printed in Scotland, are available to buy through Chris’ website: crispandsharp.co.uk.
Andrew said: “My friendship with Chris developed after he organised the Kent Castle Walk, four years ago, in aid of MDUK.”
“The idea for ‘Reflections in Colour’ was born after we shared a cup of tea after the walk. Chris’ photograph named ‘Pot of Tree’ was a symbol of sharing and fun. We initially named this new fundraising campaign ‘Pot of Tree’ so we could share the photographs and reflections with everyone. Every sale will result in a donation to MDUK.
“Chris’ daughter also has muscular dystrophy, and after that first experience together, Chris and I would often meet for coffee.
“I was blown away by his wonderful artwork, and what we originally planned as an actual show in a Whitstable art gallery has become a virtual exhibition.”
Chris said: “When I met Andrew, his enthusiasm and energy made everything possible. We have remained very good friends.
“The Gorse Bush was my first image in Reflections in Colour and was taken in Suffolk….blue sky, ploughed fields. Then an image with only the yellow of the gorse bush.
I simply joined the two images….the reflection appears as though in a pool of water…..but the sky is not blue and the gorse bush is not correctly reflected. The reflection is different…but still beautiful.
The result made me think that not everything in life is as it appears. Just as life does not always go in the direction you hoped for. As Andrew says, ‘life is what you make of it.’ ”
As an example of how people react to the photographs, Andrew has described what the image, Folkestone yellow hut means to him.
“The vibrant colours, which are fun and playful, show that with the right mind-set, regardless of disability or where you are health wise you can still enjoy life. The sky conjures up images of travel by aeroplane and with it a slight anxiety of the complexities of travelling as an electric wheelchair user.
“The beach setting reminds me of holidays by the sea. If you can overcome the challenges of travel you can enjoy the freedom and excitement that it brings to explore new lands. Finally, the beach hut itself is an island surrounded by shingle stones. Virtually impassable by electric wheelchair. This shows that at times life with a muscle disease can be desolate and lonely, cut off from everyday life. Very few people understand how this can leave you feeling.
“Colour is everywhere. It’s above us, beneath us and all around us. It’s in how we feel and how we express ourselves. And since photographs are an invention, they are much more than just holding up a mirror to reality. These pictures are a meditation in colour on how our world can be seen and how it’s possible to see beneath the image. Perhaps the mental strength that is needed to cope with the everyday?”
Louise Moffat, MDUK Regional Development Manager for London, South East and East England, said: “I am filled with admiration for the work Andrew and Chris have done to create this extensive exhibition and I am very grateful to them for donating to MDUK through the sales. The images are completely unique and all a very high quality. I can’t decide which one I would choose to hang on my wall.”