Hestelle: The carer’s Story - Sandra Harper
Open: Monday 7th October - Sunday 20th October // Time TBC
Alexander and Hestelle travelled to England from the Caribbean Island of St Vincent & The Grenadines in the early 60’s. They married here, had 5 children and made a life for themselves in the UK they now called home. Sandra is a daughter to Alexander and Hestelle and shares with us this very personal documentary work.
In 2005 Alexander was diagnosed with Cancer and in the following year had a number of mini strokes in a space of a few days.
He never fully recovered and started to act out of character. He could no longer indulge in his passion for reading his favourite books, he could not see or understand the words in front of him. His behaviour was like a roller coaster. At times he was happy, chatty and lucid, talking about the days when he was a young man in the Caribbean. At other times he could often came across as being stubborn and rude.
Hestelle, frantic with worry kept asking him what was wrong and why he was acting so strange. She pleaded with him to go and see the doctor.
Alexander denied there was anything wrong and simply replied that she was making a fuss about nothing.
Eventually he was diagnosed with Dementia and was soon no longer in the position to look after himself.
The Dementia took hold of him very quickly.
Hestelle became Alexander’s primary carer. She felt isolated and at times frustrated with coping with his unpredictable, erratic behavior and declining health. In addition to her carer duties Hestelle was also dealing with her own health ailments and the daily trip up the stairs to see to Alexander’s needs brought unbelievable pain to her arthritic knees - on top of her high blood pressure , heart problems and diabetes.
This is a sensitive and personal story dedicated to Sandra’s mother’s devotion and love to care for her father within the last year of his life and after he passed away in 2013.
We are pleased to invite Sandra to exhibit Hestelle, her first and very sensitive documentary story at this year’s Northern Eye. It highlights the hard work, love, devotion and hardship of the carers role within the family home whilst dealing with terminal illness and the onset of Dementia.
We first met Sandra as a delegate of the inaugural Northern Eye Festival in 2017, and again later in 2018 at the Eye Festival in Aberystwyth.
As a photographer based in Brighton, UK. Sandra picked up a camera in her mid-30’s and self-funds personal projects to refine her story-telling skills. She has attended a number of Photojournalism and Documentary workshops in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Sarajevo (Bosnia) and Mexico City.
From mid 2017 to the present she has been pursuing long term documentary project with a church group called ‘Made For A Mission’.