Over the next few months we will be sharing stories behind some of the winning projects from the 2017 Creative Conscience Awards. Up next is Nathan Walker, highly-commended in the film & photography category.
Throughout the 90s many educational/health professionals were still trying to understand the Autistic Spectrum. Growing up, Nathan felt alienated by his peers who didn’t understand his behaviour, and at school he would often become overwhelmed with emotion, making it harder for him to understand daily life.
As a child, Nathan’s mother discovered his fascination for textual materials, colours and shapes. As he encountered more textual materials, he rapidly improved his social and communication skills. He started to trust his mother and slowly began to understand the world around him, learning how to improve his interaction skills, control his Autism and learn new ways to develop his strengths and overcome weaknesses.
Unfortunately, due to medical reasons, Nathan’s mother’s leg had to be amputated. Now in a wheelchair, she has slowly developed the strength to overcome this challenge after refusing to give in. Having her leg amputated would not stop her living an independent life.
Italian Renaissance, Surrealism, Abstract, Contemporary and British LGBTQ Art have inspired Nathan to use art as a communication method to express his inner emotions, and allow the world to see through his eyes. Cultural elements of fashion, history, dance and performance encourage Nathan to work with the human body, allowing his physical existence to find and discover new ways of communicating emotion.
Nathan’s photographic project, featuring himself, his mother and his mother’s wheelchair, uses materials and textures that supported Nathan’s well-being to represent their relationship and their individuality. The use of fabrics reflect back on Nathan’s trouble with Autism, whilst the wheelchair represents his mother’s vulnerability and determination.
Many of the materials were added during the photoshoot, which took place in Nathan’s family home. Then Nathan used editing processes to manipulate colours and shape through Photoshop.
“My mother has taught me how to survive in this world”, Nathan told us, “thanks to her, I can now live an independent life. I can now embrace the pure beauty of life, whilst being able to help the next generation, improve and make a positive impact on peoples lives. Thanks to my mother and everyone who has supported me, I can now become a positive role model for people with Autism and Special Needs.”
By allowing viewers into his life, Nathan hopes that they will be able to embrace the beauty of life. “Regardless of ones individuality, we all have our own experiences in life, a mixture of good and bad. Everyone’s life is a story, some will be heard, ignored and forgotten. Most importantly, I wanted to make viewers aware that disability can come through physical, intellectual, emotional and social forms.”
I hope my own journey can inspire others to have pride in their disability. Most importantly, never give up on their dreams, ambitions, targets and goals. I will continue to record my journey through photography and creative arts and I strongly encourage other people with autism to use their voices for the greater good. I hope my adventure will inspire other people with autism to never give up on their dreams, ambitions, targets and life goals.