The Beecroft Art Gallery is delighted to announce a major solo exhibition - Release - by photographer Ian Treherne.

Release, which was formerly held in London, is dedicated to Treherne’s photographic works, with special reference to his own personal journey as a blind sighted artist.

Ian Treherne has been in the spotlight rather a lot of late. It's not, however, something he has always wanted shone on him.

If you don't already know of Ian because of his photography talents which have been exhibited and published over the last eight years, or perhaps have seen him a number of years back on stage with his guitar, or even seen other forms of his artwork, you may have seen him on the Channel 4 TV hit programme The Undateables, earlier this year.

"Undateable?" I hear you cry! "This tattooed, chiseled cheek-boned hottie? No way!"

But, in Ian's words, the title of the programme is perfect, because it's how he had become to feel about himself, due to the progressive sight deteriorating condition he was diagnosed with at the age of 16, called Ushers Syndrome, also known as tunnel vision.


Ian, now 39, from Rochford, had largely dealt with his visual reality by plunging himself into his work, making the most of what he could see, and perhaps - to people who were not very close friends - coming across as if he was managing well and didn't see his challenges as too much of a big deal.

"But as my eyesight deteriorated more and more... well, in a nutshell, it's been really difficult, dealing with going blind" he explained. "I got to a point where I pretty much became a recluse for two years.

"Wrapping my head around the fact was and is hard - it's still an ongoing thing I'm dealing with every day. But I had got to the point where I felt awkward, embarrassed and uncomfortable talking about it. I had started to talk a little bit about it in public, years ago, when I did an exhibition with the charity Sense, which featured artists who had certain challenges, but I didn't elaborate too much about how I honestly felt. Then the BBC did an interview on me and the headline was 'Deaf-blind photographer Ian Treherne in London exhibition' and I hated it, really hated it! I didn't want that label attached to me. I didn't want everyone to know about the thing I didn't like about myself. I didn't want people to see me as the disabled or blind person."

Ian said his personal struggles with accepting the reality of his blindness, eventually came to an emotional crisis point. He knew he was going to have to make a big change, put himself in a position where he was forced to be more honest about it, in order to move forward with his life.

"I had become so tired, tired of coping with it, living with a secret, tired of pretending I was more ok than I was, tired of people not knowing. I was tired of people not knowing how to talk to me, which was my own fault of course, for not talking to them about it. I suppose I then became desperate to talk about it.

"Well, the universe works in mysterious ways! One day I was in Kings Cross, visiting the offices of Sense, having a chat to find out if there were any projects that needed doing, and a guy came in and said he worked on The Undateables. I said, 'oh, I love that programme', which I do - I've learned a lot about people's different challenges such as tourettes or autism through that programme, as well as finding it entertaining - and the guy said to me they were looking for a blind or partially sighted person.

"I just knew, yes, this is what I needed to do! This was going to force me to be more open. It was really the best therapy I could have had. The interviewer was really challenging me too. He wasn't afraid to ask questions. Half of my brain was saying, 'no, don't say anything about that', and the other half 'you've got to say it, to move forward'. It's really hard to talk about something you don't like about yourself. It was a massive challenge.

"The next day, after the programme went out, my phone wouldn't stop buzzing. Before this, I had stopped texting people, I had gone really quiet, so it forced me to start communicating again. It gave me a ton of anxiety, but with baby steps, I became better and better, and has made me be more honest with myself and to be myself."

So here we are.

What Ian states on his Facebook event invitation, sums up his feelings about putting on what promises to be a truly inspiring show:

"Having hidden away my disadvantage for many years and struggled as a human being to participate in this world has shown me that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to change peoples perception of disability.

"After being recluse for two years, hiding away with my shame and embarrassment, I decided that admitting and vocalising the burden that I have carried for 20 years, needed to be confronted and dealt with in order to continue living life as any human being has the right to live.


"This exhibition will showcase a few of my creative passions, mixing photography, film and my woodwork. When working in portrait photography my natural inquisitiveness directs the shoot. I spend at least half an hour conversing with my subject, getting to know the person, their likes and dislikes, their passions in life, finding out what they want to reveal about themselves. The aim is to shoot a person, not just a face or a body. The things we can not see are the things that make us unique, this is what I see and this is what I want the viewer and indeed the to subject see.

"The exhibition will be and is a celebration of opening up, vocalising and showcasing my visions through photography. "Despite losing my eyesight slowly, I still want to show society the beauty I see and the conundrum I live with. You will be able to see what I see when I take portraits. There will also be a short film presenting the limitations I face on a daily basis.

"I want to show and give the wider public a better and different view of partially blind/deaf people, raise awareness of Usher Syndrome, these are people who suffer different loss of sight and hearing at any age.”

* Ian Treherne's exhibition "Release" opens at the Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Avenue, Southend, on Saturday September 16 from 1pm-3pm. All are welcome. It runs until October 14.