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‘Anonymous Portraits’ by MASH women to be displayed at Victoria Baths

A unique exhibition of photographs taken by sex workers in Manchester is set to go on display at the iconic Victoria Baths for one weekend only as part of its heritage open days on 8-9 September.

The exhibition has been organised by MASH, which works with female sex workers to empower them and promote health, wellbeing and personal safety.

The charity partnered with Manchester photographer, Shari Denson, to hold a series of creative photography workshops in the run up to the exhibition for its service users, volunteers and staff around ‘ambiguous portraits’.  The aim of the project was to challenge stereotypes, encourage participation in the arts and enable women to experience the healing and therapeutic value of photography and creativity.

Shari Denson, said; “Portraiture can be a challenging theme for women who sex work due to the stigma and prejudice they may have experienced. With this in mind, we decided to make all our pieces in this art project ambiguous.

“It’s a real privilege to be running this project for MASH and to have the opportunity to exhibit the photographs at such a prestigious venue. The healing and therapeutic value of photography and other creative endeavours is immeasurable – learning new skills, looking at the world in a different way, and seeing the beauty and mystery in ourselves and others.

“Sometimes we forget how to dream, and maybe picking up a camera and being creative allows us to dream once again…and make that dream come true, in a photograph, at least.

“We wanted to create an initiative that staff, service users and volunteers alike could get involved in and when the photos are exhibited it will be impossible for anyone to determine the nature of each person’s involvement with MASH.”

The exhibition will feature around 12 photographs, each with their own creative spin on anonymous portraits.

Workshop participant, Leanne* said; “”The photography workshops gave me the opportunity to try something new and awakened my creative side, which was lost throughout my addiction.”

For more information about the event please visit the Victoria Baths website here.

For over 25 years MASH has provided support to street sex workers, offering help from its drop-in centre in the red-light district and, late into the night, from a mobile drop-in vehicle.

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