Photographer seeks Taranaki survivors of sexual abuse for new exhibition in Whangarei: Taranaki Daily News, March 2 2017

Whangarei photographer Megan Bowers-Vette is working on an exhibition about survivors of sexual abuse.

A Whangarei photographer has put the call out for Taranaki sexual abuse survivors to take part in a hard-hitting exhibition.

Megan Bowers-Vette will arrive to New Plymouth on Friday to take portraits for "Us", an exhibition of images and stories of 50 survivors from throughout the country - two of which hail from Taranaki.

"At the moment survivors are invisible as we are separated from one another by our silence," Bowers-Vette said.

"By showing our faces and not being afraid, we will begin a chain that will allow healing to start for another."

The photographic display will feature men and women and be hosted at Whangarei Art Museum for six weeks from June before touring around the country.

A sexual abuse survivor herself, Bowers-Vette said her photography project aimed to give survivors their power back.

"As soon as it happens, they start evaluating themselves.

"The only way to normalise the conversation is to keep putting it in people's faces until it becomes normal."

And since releasing a video asking for models, Bowers-Vette said the project had morphed into something larger than life.

"It shows that people are hungry for a change."

Bowers-Vette needs 20 more participants to join the project, which is described as "environmental portraits".

"They'll be photographs of people in their natural environment to show who they are in the world," she explained.

One Taranaki survivor, Haley Cameron, will be photographed with her 18-year-old son at Fitzroy Beach.

"It's where I did a lot of my healing," Cameron said.

When she stumbled across Bowers-Vette's video, Cameron's son Hawanii Kimi encouraged her to join.

"I feel quite proud and honoured to share my experience," Cameron said.

"The key in life is to be able to communicate and to have a healthy life is to express yourself."

She said a lot of shame is still associated with the topic and she hoped the exhibition will uncover an acceptable conversation.

"Once you start talking about it, the more you realise how many people in your life have been affected," Cameron said.

And survivors are more than the title - they are thrivers, she said.

"I choose to embrace it as a strength."

To participate, visit the project's Facebook site.

 - Stuff