Magherafelt woman battles back from depression through photography

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A Magherafelt photographer who has battled despression has been invited to take part in Scotland’s premier visual arts and crafts open studios event.

Laurie Campbell who was forced to give up her career as a lecturer has blossomed into an extraordinary photographer.

Laurie Campbell

Laurie Campbell

Some of her images of animals express powerful emotions, while her landscapes often have a distinct otherworldly feel.

The titles of her work – such as Anger, Despair, Lost in Thought, Serenity and Onwards reveal a great deal about her own direction in the past two years.

Laurie, is one of just 10 high-quality photographers selected for Spring Fling 2015 – Scotland’s premier open studios visual arts and crafts event.

She was chosen as part of the Neighbours Scheme set up to involve artists and makers from areas immediately bordering Dumfries and Galloway, where Spring Fling is based.

One day I just imploded and could not go on. I expected the doctor to tell me that I was stressed and needed a week or two off

Until a couple of years ago she was a lecturer in communication – but everything changed with brutal suddenness.

Laurie said: “One day I just imploded and could not go on. I expected the doctor to tell me that I was stressed and needed a week or two off. Instead she asked if I would be surprised to know I had developed severe depression – I said I would be surprised.

“I was advised to work on being kinder to myself and to find something that I loved. I had taken an MFA in photography and really enjoyed that, and had intended to use it as part of my lecturing work.

“I picked up my camera again and started taking pictures. I found I could lose myself in it completely. It slows me down and stops my mind racing at 150mph.”

Photo by Magherafelt photographer Laurie Campbell

Photo by Magherafelt photographer Laurie Campbell

Eventually Laurie was told that there was no prospect of her returning to her career in lecturing. Since then photography, which was initially a coping strategy, has become central to her life and she is doing ever-growing amounts of professional work.

She said: “The last two years I have been rebuilding my life and learning to live with the longer term effects of the condition. I still hesitate to call myself a photographer yet, I still think of it as my therapy.”

The exhibition will be held at the Grainstore in Stranraer, from 23-25 May.