By:Shubham Ghosh

Celebrated photographer Bunshri Chandaria will on Sunday (29) launch Silent Voice, an artist’s book depicting a photographic exploration of dementia at an event hosted by St Alban’s Museum and Gallery.

The book-launching event will include ‘an artist in conversation’ talks with publisher Eddie Ephraums and a multi-media installation designed to break the stigma which is often attached to dementia.

Chandaria, who has been awarded with a Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society for Silent Voice which touches on diaspora, culture and family dynamics, has been inspired by her late mother-in-law’s experience of Alzheimer’s disease.

She has created stunning images which make visible the invisible interior world of a person living with Alzheimer’s.

“The Alzheimer’s diagnosis of my late mother-in-law, Ramaba, alarmed and saddened me. She was still the epitome of beauty but a disconnect between her and the world had set in. She could not communicate in a manner people were accustomed to. They did not know how to react or interact with her. She went quiet,” Chandaria said.

“I felt a deep need to give her a voice. Fortunately, I was very close to her and was privileged to hear many of her untold stories before she passed away peacefully.

“Through Silent Voice, I make visible the invisibility of her Alzheimer’s condition. I created images to evoke visceral response in the viewer, to emphasise her foggy, confused mind. I wanted the viewer to pause: to look back and forth between images and her spoken memories — to reflect on the harshness of the disease,” she added.

Chandaria also said, “The time constraint of her daily needs had prompted me to photograph spontaneously and intuitively, steering me in a new way: to slow down and breathe, to be light and playful – to embrace her changing world. The project had been my solace, helping me to unleash the deep sadness and loss I felt within.

“I am delighted to be working with St Alban’s Museum and Gallery on bringing awareness about a harsh subject in an inspiring and creative manner. I look forward to seeing how the public respond to the event – I hope it will encourage people to reflect on how Alzheimer’s can affect us.”

Tim Parry, director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, one of the country’s leading charities specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia, said, “Bunshri’s chronical of her mother-in-law’s incredible life, from exotic global travels to a trip to the cinema, reads and views as a wonderful celebration.

“It must be reassuring to them both that the essence of Bunshri’s mother-in-law and her place in the world will be forever preserved. And that this has been achieved through Bunshri’s intimate photography and through her mother-in-law’s words makes it all the more powerful.

“There are almost one million people living with dementia in the UK and unless we act, one in three children born this year will develop dementia in their lifetime. Alzheimer’s Research UK exists to make life-changing research breakthroughs, giving hope to families and future generations. Fantastic awareness-raising efforts like the Silent Voices artist book launch event will help push these vital conversations about dementia forward.”

The ‘in conversation’ discussion will take place in the Assembly Room from 1:30 pm. There are limited spaces available so tickets must be purchased through the St Alban’s Museum website. The book launch will follow between 2:30 pm and 5 pm.

The Silent Voice multi-media installation is part of the Invisible Threads Exhibition which can be found in the Keepers Gallery.

Boxed Collector’s Editions with a signed giclee print as well as Standard Editions are available on the day and thereafter by contacting Bunshri directly. Profits from the book will be donated to research on dementia.

To book tickets for the event, please visit: www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/whats-on/silent-voice

To find out more about Alzheimer’s Research UK, please visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org.