After? Brain Injury Portraits

Thea Sian Phil Graham Justin Francis Camilla John Craig Tim

After? is an ongoing series of large scale photographic portraits of people who have survived brain injuries. The portraits attempt to reflect the experience beyond initial trauma and provide a space in which to explore the often extraordinary, terrifying and profoundly revelatory journeys into the self to which many patients with an acquired brain injury bear witness.

This project is based on my own experience. I survived a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage in 2002 and spent many months in recovery with other brain injury patients - all of whom were uniquely affected, yet shared common experiences medically, psychologically and socially.

This series of images was made at locations chosen with the subjects to reflect the personal experiences they have undergone - in some cases, it is the actual site of their injury; in others, a place significant to their recovery, such as a hospital, place of retreat or site of symbolic survival.  My aim was to capture the subtleties of the real experience of brain injury.

The work has been exhibited at the National Assembly for Wales Senedd building and the Butetown History and Art Centre in Cardiff Bay and was accompanied by a symposium in May 2008 exploring the social and personal experience of brain injury. During the symposium several of the people represented in After? described the difficulties they faced and the potential for personal growth in recovery. The event provided positive models for coping with disability and highlighted the need for appropriate services tailored to the needs of survivors and their families and carers.

After? was produced with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and the assistance of Ffotogallery. In addition, help was provided by key members of the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust Acquired Brain Injury Team. In particular, I shoud like to thank Chris Coppock and Sian Harries of Ffotogallery, Dr. Claire Willson from the Community Brain Injury Team and Lorraine Barrett AM. The photographic prints were superbly produced by Davies Colour in Splott and were bonded for exhibition by Pink Panther Digital to stunning effect. Above all, of course, I thank the many participants and their families for so enthusiastically supporting this project.

Photographs by David Sinden: all rights reserved 2020