“Survivors: Life Unfiltered” has been re-imagined due to the pandemic and will launch as a virtual exhibition on the Survivors Life Unfiltered website on 21 July 2020
World Kidney Day back in mid-March saw “Survivors: Life Unfiltered” - a new art exhibition featuring photographic portraits and compelling human stories of survival against the odds, poised to launch in London. The impact of Covid-19 meant the event had to pause and instead there will be a launching of a virtual exhibition online until in person exhibitions can take place again.
Known as a “silent killer” with no cure, three million lives are at risk from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in the UK today (more than the total number of people living with all types of cancer), with another one million estimated to be undiagnosed. As a hidden disability, CKD doesn’t receive the recognition or understanding that it should and remains relatively misunderstood by the general public. There is a distinct lack of awareness of specific risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and the BAME community are disproportionately affected.
“Survivors: Life Unfiltered” is a joint creative project by Richard Booth, award winning photographer and director, and Maddy Warren aka Queen of Dialysis, who devised the exhibition as a way to educate and raise awareness of CKD and how it affects people by highlighting inspiring stories of survival. It features over 30 participants ranging from two to 78 years old who come from all walks of life, including the former England football star Andy Cole who is a kidney transplant recipient.
Each person or family has been photographed in two settings presented as a diptych that shows how their outward-facing daily lives contrast starkly with the realities of their condition. Surviving with kidney disease requires an enormous investment of time for the rest of people’s lives – time spent each week on dialysis, time spent waiting for a kidney and (if they are lucky) time spent looking after their transplant(s), with many associated complexities.
Interviews with participants have enabled them to tell their own thought-provoking stories to complement the stunning images; covering topics as diverse as facing mortality, mental health, body image, gratitude, survivor’s guilt, silver linings, reconciling with a “new” normal, and facing the fear of living with a life limiting condition.
Our participants found themselves in the group identified as highly vulnerable to Covid-19 so have faced the additional challenge of shielding for the past four months; experiencing extreme isolation, anxiety and the increased complexity of accessing their life saving dialysis, ensuring food and medication supplies, and maintaining critical transplant monitoring. Unfortunately severe cases of Covid-19 also cause acute kidney failure, with many people in ICU requiring emergency kidney dialysis. It is yet to be seen how many of those will have sustained long term kidney damage which may require dialysis again or a transplant in the future.
Maddy Warren, co-creator of the “Survivors: Life Unfiltered” exhibition and a long term home dialysis patient says,
“Kidney disease can devastate everything from family, relationships and education, to work, socialising and playing a fulfilling role in your community. Being on dialysis can feel like an interminable struggle. It’s a huge effort to just keep surviving an invasive, hugely time consuming treatment for the rest of your life or until you might have a successful kidney transplant. Yet perversely, the condition also provides a unique perspective into what it means just to be alive. That’s the reason we created our exhibition – to share the amazing stories of strength, vulnerability and resilience of those living with CKD, and to raise awareness of this little-known disease which affects millions.”
Professor Nicola Thomas, Professor of Kidney Care at London South Bank University who were originally due to host the inaugural exhibition, says: “I have been a kidney nurse for all my career and kidney health, teaching and research remain my focus today. It’s hugely important that members of the public have an opportunity to gain an insight and learn more about their kidney health and the challenges faced by those living with kidney disease.”
The aim is for “Survivors: Life Unlimited” to go on display through 2021 in public galleries and exhibition locations across the UK, as well as at kidney clinical meetings and academic conferences. We are very grateful to our sponsors Quanta Dialysis Technologies, Kidney Research UK and Kidney Care UK for their support.
View the Art Exhibition on the Survivors: Life Unlimited website
Kidney Care UK joins forces with the Governm…
Working together to help save lives through the vaccine roll out
Have your voice heard as restrictions ease a…
Kidney Care UK is launching the third of our national surveys to learn how the pandemic is affecting you.