Every Walk Of Life - Living With MS At The People's Palace

By Kerry Patterson | 03 February 2004
Shows a black and white photograph of a woman in a wheelchair holding a record by Cliff Richard. She is sitting in lounge next to a television set, against a wall covered in striped wallpaper.

Photo: Liz Kelly (nee McCrory). By John P. McCrory. Courtesy Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland.

Kerry Patterson travelled across Glasgow to experience this thought-provoking and touching exhibition.

There are more people per capita in Scotland with Multiple Sclerosis than anywhere else in the world. Every Walk of Life, at the People’s Palace in Glasgow until April 4, documents the lives of a selection of people living with MS in Scotland.

The exhibition is organised by the MS Society, with the aim of showing positive and realistic depictions of people with MS.

It is also part of their ongoing campaign for a national standard of care for Multiple Sclerosis in Scotland. The exhibition contains fifty black and white photographs, the number chosen to correspond with the 50th anniversary of the MS Society.

Shows a close-up black and white photograph of a man's head and shoulders. He is facing the camera and half-smiling. In the background there is a window, in front of which is a computer screen.

Photo: Time for a doobie! Martin Bush by Ewan Bush. Courtesy Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland.

Members of the Society wishing to take part in the project were sent a black and white film and some tips on photography.

Photographer Tim Morozzo took pictures of anyone who wanted to participate but was unable to use a camera due to the severity of their MS.

On entering the gallery the most notable feature about the exhibition is that the photographs are displayed at a lower level than normal. This is for the benefit of visitors in wheelchairs, with a wheelchair provided at the entrance for use by able-bodied visitors to aid viewing of the images.

As a tall person, I found looking at the photographs as uncomfortable as a wheelchair user would find viewing pictures displayed at the usual level.

Being able to look at works in a gallery without a problem is something I normally take for granted, so this put the pictures in a new context for me from the outset.

Shows a black and white photograph of a woman sitting at a table, which is covered with a checked tablecloth. She is leaning over the table, sewing a piece of cloth.

Photo: The Mariner's Compass. Mary Eunson By Sydney Eunson. Courtesy Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland.

Contributors to the exhibition were free to choose any part of their life to portray and the photographs range from informal pictures showing family and hobbies to more traditional portraits.

Some of the images are accompanied by text that explains more about the subject or their feelings about having MS and how it affects their life. Other photographs are left to speak for themselves.

Martin Grieg’s photograph Ready, unsteady, cook was taken by his wife Linda. Martin is shown cooking in his kitchen, the photograph revealing no obvious signs of his illness.

In the accompanying text, he explains that "given time, and with a positive outlook, the support of family and friends accompanied with the ability to compromise, mean many difficulties can be overcome."

Shows a black and white photograph of a woman standing with crutches on a beach by a lake. She is leaning forward towards a small boy who is reaching up to her with something in his hand as if feeding it to her. In the background there is a hill across the water, while there are two other boys also on the beach.

Photo: Beach combing at Dores Beach. Martha Weatherspoon By Ewen Weatherspoon. Courtesy Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland.

The exhibition shows that MS can affect adults of all ages and to different degrees. Having MS does not necessarily mean a 'life sentence' and being confined to a wheelchair.

In many of the photographs, it is impossible to tell that the subject has MS. As Linda Smith explains in the writing accompanying her portrait In reflective mood, "there is not an 'MS look', everyone is different."

The photographs show a wide range of people from every walk of life, which makes the exhibition all the more affecting.

The final portrait in the show summed up for me the overall mood of the photographs. Tim Morozzo’s photograph of Richard Thursfield is entitled Life goes on.

As Richard explains, "having MS doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. It’s just a different beginning in life – a different way of doing things."

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