Louder than words: Dyslexic artist finds power in photography
Laura Piper2 days ago
It took decades for John Ferguson to get a diagnoses and now his work is reaching out to others.
<img class=”resp-img__image” src=”https://images.stv.tv/articles/w384/572473-john-ferguson.jpg” alt=”John's story: John Ferguson was recently diagnosed with dyslexia.”/>
John’s story: John Ferguson was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. John Ferguson
For a long time words on a page would not perform as John Ferguson wanted them too.
Reading and writing was hard. School as a whole was harder. Still, John persevered. So much so, he not only graduated in his 30s but he also went on to take up a “fairly senior position” in his local council.
It was only years later, in 2017, that the diagnosis of dyslexia came through.”It was a shock,” says John. “But it explained a lot of problems.”
Different people with dyslexia have different symptoms, but tests routinely show that dyslexics are better at spatial reasoning and “seeing the bigger picture”.
Career, marriage, everything had continued to happen for John, but as the world generally goes, just as he looked up to see everything around him running smoothly, he missed the few stumbling blocks that suddenly appeared in his path.
“Five years before that I had become quite seriously ill,” he says. “I suddenly couldn’t climb hills, ride bikes or do anything I used to do.”
<img class=”resp-img__image” src=”https://images.stv.tv/articles/w384/572480-john-ferguson.jpg” alt=”Different people with dyslexia have different symptoms.”/>
Different people with dyslexia have different symptoms. John Ferguson
John had also carried out some work with Syrian refugees, work he felt was important and right to do, but still, seeing so much of their suffering took its own toll.
He knew he had a lot to say, but he needed a medium that could be in its own way louder than writing on a page.
That’s when John picked up a camera.
He could still remember the first photograph he took, when he was a nine-year-old boy on a school trip to Belgium.
“I had taken a photo of a bridge and everyone went ‘Wow’,” he says.
Now, he turned his lens on himself. He took self-portraits and joined a local camera club in Moray, where he is based.
He wandered around taking as many photographs as he could and his imaging skills grew so greatly, his work is now on show in his very own exhibit at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.
“I’m not very good at writing and expressing my own views,” says John.”Photography was a way to do so.”
<img class=”resp-img__image” src=”https://images.stv.tv/articles/w384/572482-john-ferguson.jpg” alt=”John can still remember the first photo he ever took.”/>
John can still remember the first photo he ever took. John Ferguson
Named “Postcards from an imagining” his collection of images sparks off from his diagnosis of dyslexia, in a series of abstract digital images that explore hidden abilities and perceived disabilities.
As the exhibition literature states: “He is beginning to reconstruct and reimagine past experiences in his work and hopes the images encourage self-reflection and provoke questions.”
It would seem his theme has already resonated with visitors.
One man approached John after viewing them and said that he, himself, had experienced depression and he felt the images “spoke” to home.
Another visitor with minor learning difficulties said they felt a connection with the images also.
“I didn’t want to dictate what the pictures mean,” says John. “I wanted people to put there own interpretation into it.”
<img class=”resp-img__image” src=”https://images.stv.tv/articles/w384/572481-john-ferguson.jpg” alt=”The exhibition is being held in Inverness.”/>
The exhibition is being held in Inverness. John Ferguson
John is the first in a series of photographers exhibiting in the new permanent exhibition space for photography in the Highlands as part of FLOW Photofest.
An international festival celebrating photography in all its forms, it is held biennially across the north of Scotland. The second FLOW Photofest will launch in Inverness and the North of Scotland in September 2019 and will comprise exhibitions, talks, films and workshops.
The official opening of the FLOW Wall at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness was on January, 5 and John’s work will be on show there until Feb 4.