‘Diaries of Despair; True Tales of Turnaround,’ (DOD), was a collaborative project. what started as my desire to do portraits of local people to connect with our city, along with scribbled concepts in my journal, then joined with excellent ideas from others in our team. what resulted, was team work spread over several months to bring a two week long photographic exhibition into the central city, that over 1000 people visited.
the idea of the project was to bring to light issues that are very prevalent today, but are often not publicly discussed. we wanted to tell the true stories of local people, who had been in a dark place and found a way through it. through a careful process we gathered together seven willing people to share their stories. these stories covered gambling addiction, depression, self-harm, rejection, suicide and despair.
we told these stories by creating two photographs for each person – one showing them in their darkest moment and the second having found a way through this. they were mounted on opposite walls in a separate space for each person. some of the dark images were quite graphic, as we represented photographically how people had considered to take their lives. but on the opposite wall, the positive image reflected their transformation. each image was accompanied by their written testimony. unfortunately i can not show the images here, but i can show you the photos i took of the exhibition space. (to follow). along with working as a part of the core team for the production of the project and hosting at the exhibition, i was responsible for the design of all of the promotional materials. but the most rewarding work for me was the one on one conversations with people and having opportunity to speak into their lives.
as a purpose driven project, the most important thing was the motivation for the creative work. each of the people who shared their stories had gone through different processes in their recovery journey. however the one thing they all had in common was that they each experienced true transformation, through relationship with Jesus Christ. this project was therefore not a religious expedition, but an opportunity to hear from real people who encountered God in their lives. the running of the exhibition itself was therefore important. the idea was that the people whose stories were told in the photographs, would also be present at the exhibition to share their stories with the visitors in person. we didn’t want the images we were showing to just be like those of models, but to have a very personal element that was enabled by the presence of the ‘living testimony’ – the locals themselves. we wanted to cultivate an environment that allowed personal connection and a place for people to openly discuss these difficult topics.
we also created several spaces for people to sit, talk, read relevant resources and respond to what they had seen and read. one great response resource we had, was a set of jars for each dark place. we had three different coloured stones to represent being in a dark place. people were invited to place the appropriate coloured stone in the appropriate jar. this was on some level therapeutic for many and also gave us a visual overview of what issues were prevalent in our community. each stone represented a person.
over the course of the two weeks, we heard many people’s stories and many were moved by the stories of hope we were presenting. we were also able to pray for people and one person made a decision to enter into a personal relationship with God themselves.
[ i am in need of prayerful and financial support to continue my work in missions. if you are interested in partnering with me to sustain this type of work, please email for more information:
t i n y g r e e n o b j e c t @ g m a i l . c o m (no spaces) ]