Photographer Supports Aware Defeat Depression Charity

Photographer Fergal Kearney opens landscape exhibition in aid of support charity Aware Defeat Depression

Fergal Kearney first developed an interest in photography as a ten-year old, after receiving an 'old school' Kodak camera as a Christmas present. Now in his 40s, he uses photography as a refuge, a means of self-expression, after a long struggle with mental illness.

'Depression is something that I've suffered from for about 20 years now,' says Kearney. 'But photography, and, indeed, capturing the place I live in, has always been that anchor which has kept me grounded through my darkest days of anxiety and all those things associated with [mental illness].'

Having been forced to retire from full-time employment as a result of his condition, Kearney has since forged a career for himself as a professional photographer. Elements of Ireland, his debut solo exhibition, is currently on display in the Bridewell arts centre in Kearney's native Magherafelt.

The exhibition features colour and black and white landscape photographs taken across Northern Ireland – from the Causeway Coast to the lakelands of Fermanagh – showcasing what Kearney describes as 'the ever-changing views and vistas' of his beloved country.

The exhibition runs until September 6, and proceeds from print sales will be donated to Aware Defeat Depression, the charity working exclusively with sufferers of depression in Northern Ireland, which Kearney holds close to his heart.

'What I'd like to do [with this exhibition] is to say, here's what you can do even in your darkest hours,' Kearney asserts. 'You can capture the brightest light... Really I would recommend art, photography – whatever art form you choose to invest your time in – as something which is hugely therapeutic and hugely enjoyable.'

It's a sentiment that has been shared by many in the media this week – sufferers, health care professionals and commentators – following the untimely death of American comedian and actor, Robin Williams, who sadly took his own life at the age of 63 after a very public struggle with depression and addiction.

'Having a creative outlet is incredibly comforting,' Kearney confirms. 'It allows me to look at the world around in me in a different way, and to appreciate Northern Ireland as a truly wonderful place, where I may not have been able to do so previously. I'm proud that this exhibition will help to raise awareness for a magnificent charity like Aware Defeat Depression.'

Elements of Ireland: A Landscape Exhibition runs in the Bridewell, Magherafelt, until September 6.