The Time of Her Life – Lesley McIntyre

I wasn’t sure whether to bother to go to Photofusion for the opening of their current show, but I’m glad I did. ‘The Time of Her Life‘ is a series of pictures by Lesley McIntrye of her daughter Molly, born in 1984 suffering from a muscular disability that was never properly diagnosed. At birth, doctors had thought she would only survive for a few weeks or months, but she was actually 14 when she died.

McIntyre had to devote her time to being a parent and was unable to continue her photographic career as she had hoped. Instead she began a detailed photographic record of Molly’s life, which she was determined should be as normal as possible. The pictures reveal a very full life, but only hint at the battles that lay behind this, fighting the discrimination against the disabled, insisting that her daughter be educated in a normal mainstream school.

The images are surprising varied given that they all feature the same subject, and give a very positive and life-affirming message. They have a realism that avoids pathos while giving us a warm and poignant portrait of Molly. The book ‘The Time of Her Life’ was published by Jonathan Cape in 2004 and is still available; it was Highly Commended in the John Kobal Book Award in 2004.

Of course openings are also a good opportunity to meet and talk to people, and not the best time to see the show, and it was good to meet old friends and make a few new connections. It wasn’t too hard to drink a few glasses of wine and a couple of beers too. The show continues until 29 Sept, and I hope to go back for a longer look. Photofusion photography centre is just a couple of minutes walk from both Brixton underground and overground stations, as well as many bus routes. When I photographed on buses for a transport project, Brixton was one of my favourite places to work, with lively bus queues and never long to wait for a bus. The gallery is just a few yards from Europe’s largest Caribbean food market, well worth a visit. John Gay (1909-99 – born Hans Gohler in Germany, he moved to England in 1933) , took some rather atmospheric photographs of it in the early 1960s.

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