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Photography graduate exposes hidden side of autism

Middlesex graduate Elanor Marielle’s touching photography of her autistic brothers is attracting industry attention and helping to shed light on an underrepresented issue.

Elanor Marie photography project autism  

Elanor, who graduated from Middlesex in 2015 with a BA Photography, was recently awarded a coveted 'Wooden Pencil' as part of the D&AD New Blood competition, which recognises the best in student, graduate and young creative design and advertising.

She was awarded the prize for her final photography project, an intimate series of images showing a glimpse into the lives of her twin brothers Conal and Xander, who have autism, and her mother, who is their carer.

"Caring for people with autism is rewarding and incredibly difficult," said Elanor. "Witnessing such innocence is both beautiful and terrifying; these people who often have no voice are some of the most vulnerable people in society.

"This set acts as a photographic language, visually expressing what many living with autism cannot express verbally. The images attempt to show the quiet gentleness of one of society's most misunderstood minorities, and the effect it can have on their carers."

Elanor Marie photography project autism 

The collection features photos of her brothers as young children and now aged 21 at home and in their local area. Elanor hopes that the images will challenge the stereotypes people have of autism, and how people who live with it can appear – a mission that has resonated with organisations such as the National Autistic Society (NAS), who have acknowledged the potential her images hold.

"At the NAS, we know that art and culture play a central role in increasing public understanding about autism, so we're delighted to see wonderful, thoughtful work by people like Elanor receiving the attention it deserves," said Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs and Social Change at NAS.

"Artistic representations of autism, particularly when they're inspired by personal experience, can help challenge myths and change lives by increasing understanding. Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how people perceive and interact with the world around them, but with the right support, autistic people like Elanor's brothers can live full lives."

After exhibiting her work at the Truman Brewery in 2015, Elanor has also been featured in the respected British Journal of Photography as well as the iconic Hunger magazine, which was founded by photographer and publisher Rankin.

Elanor's passion for photography started at a young age and was encouraged by her mother, a former model, and her musician father. She received her first camera from her mum aged 13 and had her first photo published in the same year. 

Elanor is now developing a short film and continuing to photograph for a variety of clients.

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