Artist’s Statement

There are around 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 700,000 with autism. Photographer Polly Braden has spent two years working with just a few who are supported by MacIntyre*, a charity that provides more than 1,500 children and adults with learning, support and care.

Her photographs look at the everyday moments, achievements and milestones of her subjects. The issue is complex but the aim is simple: to highlight everyday interactions and life-changing experiences.

These are stories about the barriers faced in life, but they are also inspiring, often filled with moments of achievement in things which once seemed difficult, if not impossible—from finding employment or using public transport to gaining a measure of independence, graduating from high school or getting married.

“Great Interactions” looks to engage decision-makers and the wider public to ensure that people with a learning disability receive the same opportunities as everyone else.

—Polly Braden

Editors’ note: This project was singled out for distinction among the submissions to LensCulture Portrait Awards 2016 by juror Clare Grafik. Each juror selected one photographer to be awarded a special $1,000 grant—discover why this one stood out.

Juror’s statement

Polly Braden’s long-term documentary project “Great Interactions” offers a rich, empathic and visually accomplished response to the experiences of people with learning disabilities and autism. The quiet intimacy of the images, and their accompanying captions, describe experiences from the everyday as well as once-in-a-lifetime interactions and accomplishments—all without recourse to cliché or assumption.

Clare Grafik, Head of Exhibitions
The Photographers’ Gallery
London, UK

MacIntyre is a leading national charity providing learning, support, education and care to over 1,500 children, young people and adults with learning disabilities, complex needs and autism and their families across England and Wales.