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Twenty one year old Newry woman Caoimhe Clements is looking forward to hosting an exhibition of her work in the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre throughout November. Caoimhe has documented her experiences of living with epilepsy through the medium of photography and she hopes her exhibition ‘From the inside out’ will raise awareness about epilepsy while helping people to understand it more.

Caoimhe Clements.
Caoimhe Clements.

The exhibition launch night will take place Saturday 2 November from 7 - 9pm and  will run throughout the month of November during arts centre opening hours.

Caoimhe will be raising funds for Epilepsy Action on the night selling signed photography prints for £5.

Speaking about the exhibition Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland spokesperson Chantal Spittles said "Epilepsy is an invisible condition and it can be hard to describe to others how it feels and both the physical and emotional impact it can have. Caoimhe is doing an excellent job in using her photography skills to help bring a complex condition to life through her photos. They describe what she goes through on a daily basis and the reality of living with epilepsy. We hope people visiting her exhibition will learn something new about epilepsy and feel able to be more open about any challenges they may be going through."

Caoimhe was diagnosed with epilepsy as a new-born baby. Thankfully she has been seizure free for around two years but she used to have partial seizures lasting around 30 seconds every month, leaving her feeling panicked, overwhelmed and very emotional. She takes Keppra to manage her seizures and finds tiredness, stress and anxiety are her main triggers.

Although she’s had a really positive experience with the NHS Caoimhe says it has still had a massive impact on her life.“Epilepsy has definitely had an impact on my mental health. Having anxiety has affected my life because it would make me worry and stress out. Having epilepsy in general is a challenge – it’s hard to express it to people, especially people who don’t understand it.”

As a student photographer, Caooimhe says the medium helps her express what she is feeling “I have always been an artist and I always felt photography came naturally to me and could express exactly what I am feeling. One of my most successful photography projects so far was a series of five portraits of me expressing mental health and it’s on permanent display in Belfast. If photography could act as my therapy, then it was mine. I wanted to have that power to create work that would help others just like photography has helped me.

“As a photographer, I want to create work that helps and inspires others. Using epilepsy as the focus was very important to me because it means I am finally talking about it – something I never really did before. I chose to do a photography project on it to inspire others and let them know it’s ok not to be ok sometimes.

“My exhibition will feature a series of images taking my viewers on a journey of educating them and helping them to understand epilepsy. For example, I have photographed Keppra – the tablet I take to control my seizures. Besides this image, I’ll explain the difference it makes and how it helps people like me.  I have also photographed the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast as this is where I used to go as a child for my epilepsy. This will be my way of educating people about the condition.”

If you can't visit the exhibition and would like to donate to Epilepsy Action go to where Caoimhe has added a donation page.

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