In my room photography exhibition by Ann Kay

Ann Kay was an inpatient at St Michael’s Hospice for 12 weeks, during which time she created this collection of photographs.

The idea for the project came from a conversation with Hospice Communications Manager, Chris Smart. Both were graduates of the Documentary Photography course at the University of South Wales in Newport.

While on the course, Ann had learned that great photographs were taken by photographers who had an insight into the subjects they are documenting. Ann wanted to show that people brought more than just their professional lives into her Hospice room. Ann’s conversations with staff were about more than her health; they were about grandchildren, wedding plans, music and even honey.

Ann wanted to show the humanity behind the uniforms worn by Hospice staff. After an informal chat, Ann asked each of her subjects to choose a prop to be photographed with that was significant in their lives.

Ann said, ‘I don’t know what I would have done without this project, it helped me to feel brighter in myself. Photography is something that I enjoy and working on the project kept me busy. Creating these photographs has been about living every moment of my life. I hope that one day these pictures will be in an exhibition.’

The photographs were all taken during Ann’s stay, and although Chris was needed to press the button, Ann directed the shoot. She gave instructions about how to fold blankets for the best visual effect, and she used her wit to engage with her subjects. As the shoot progressed, Chris would show Ann the photos: she would ask for alterations until she approved the shot. Chris then printed out an A3-sized picture and displayed it in Ann’s room. The images created a buzz on the ward, among Ann’s guests and members of staff. The portraits stimulated new conversations between a wide variety of people about the big and small things in life. The captions that accompany the pictures are Ann’s words.

Ann died on 28th December 2015 after spending 12 weeks at St Michael’s. Ann’s family hope her photographs will stimulate more conversations about the work of St Michael’s staff who give people the chance to live every moment of life.