This is a project that explores the arts and chronic illness

Image description: Image of two people reflected in multiple mirrors of a piece of art
Image copyright: Donna McCormack

What is Capturing Chronic Illness?

This project explores how the arts – in all their forms – can help us to re-imagine chronic illness. We pay particular attention to how queer genders and sexualities, race and disability can shape experiences of health and how visual arts can give space to marginalised experiences of care and chronic illness. The project began as a photography exhibition at the 2020 Being Human Festival and we have continued to explore other art forms and their engagement with health. The photos which sit on our homepage were submitted by photographers – amateur and professional – in response to our call. We would like to thank everyone who took part in this exhibition, for sharing their own artwork, and for those of you who have continued to explore these issues with us.

Who is behind Capturing Chronic Illness?

The project is led by Dr Donna McCormack (University of Strathclyde) and Dr Ingrid Young (University of Edinburgh).

Donna has lived with chronic illness from a young age, but in recent years this experience has come to impact on daily life in many unexpected and often unwanted ways. She took to the practice of photography with old film cameras in 2015, with a specific interest in how we capture how we move through the world without speaking of illness. Donna is also a medical humanities scholar, specialising in queer, postcolonial and biotechnologies in contemporary literature and film (particularly speculative fiction). She ran the project Transplant Imaginaries, where she explored how photography can help to reimagine bodies, health and illness in the context of organ transplantation. 

Ingrid is the primary carer for someone living with multiple chronic illnesses. She has an interest in queer photography, and the intersections of queer with chronic illness. She is also a medical sociologist with a background in history and an active interest in arts-based methods. Her work focuses on HIV, sexual and reproductive health and justice with LGBTQ+ and migrant communities in the UK.