2021 - Ongoing
At six years old, my son Milo* was diagnosed with Selective Mutism, a severe anxiety disorder that robs him of speech in environments he finds stressful. At home, he speaks openly and with ease. In a sense, Milo experiences a double life over which he has no control; only those closest to him see the whole picture. Between the Silence explores my family’s experience as we navigate the path between the light and the dark; the joy and despair; the sound and the silence.
Milo spent three years unable to express himself outside of our home, before we finally found the answer for which we had desperately searched; a name for our experience. His diagnosis signalled the beginning of a journey for our family. While we now understood what was happening, we were heartbroken to learn that our son was paralysed with fear when he was away from us. I had to endure the guilt of not knowing sooner while at the same time, step up and become all of the things Milo needed his mother to be.
This project began as a therapeutic practice for both myself and my son. Initially, I sought to create a visual tool to discuss emotionally complex topics with a young child. Photography is my way of processing the world, so I turned the lens inward: to document us, to understand him, to feel what he felt. Knowing the power of photography as a therapeutic tool, I armed Milo with a simple Instax camera; a new means to express himself and explore the world. His photos became conversation starters for bigger themes. The images we took together captured a narrative that I had not previously considered. They transformed a project about our little boy into a story about our family. Anxiety is a contagious beast. It has left its mark on us all.
Between the Silence is a participatory, evolving project that uses a combination of documentary and posed photos, including self-portraits, taken by myself and my son. Images made by Milo are distinguished by using an Instax camera and are set alongside my images for context. I also use his drawings and notes to give a sense of personhood to the images. By using different modes of storytelling, I seek to create a tactile and sensory experience for the viewer and bring Milo’s voice into the process.
My inspiration stems from nature; its resilience and ability to heal. Studies have proven that spending time in nature lowers stress and increases happiness. I found myself drawn to nature this year more than ever before and it organically became part of the process. I find inspiration in the colours, patterns and textures.
The PH Museum Women Photographers Grant will enable me to continue to take images of our story; one that touches upon themes prevalent in today’s society. I would like to continue to build what my son and I have started; including and encouraging his visions and thoughts for our project. I would like to use this work to raise awareness of Selective Mutism and child anxiety.
* For privacy, I use my children’s middle names.