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Called “the Invisible Carer”, the large-scale light projection is designed to celebrate the often unheralded and crucial role of family carers.  

Spotlight shines on “invisible” family carers though poignant public art display

A poignant public art display will shine the spotlight on the pivotal, yet often unseen, role played by family carers across both Devon and the wider UK.

Renowned artist Leo Jamelli has collaborated with the University of Exeter to create a piece of emotional public artwork, that will be displayed in Exeter city centre this weekend.

Called “the Invisible Carer”, the large-scale light projection is designed to celebrate the often unheralded and crucial role of family carers.  

Funded by a University of Exeter Arts and Culture Fellowship, the artwork is inspired by research currently being developed by Dr Catriona McKenzie and Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer as part of a Wellcome Trust Small Grant.

The artwork will appear on the historic St Catherine’s Almshouse, on the site of the iconic ruin located in the Princesshay precinct, from 80pm on 20th and 21st September.

Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Senior Lecturer in Ageing and Family Care, said: “There are nearly nine million carers in the UK and they save the government £132 billion each year. But this valuable work – and the toll it takes – often goes unseen. So we’re delighted that Leo’s art is literally shining a light on family carers. We hope it will help carers feel seen, and start conversations in the community about the value we place on care. It’s also a powerful and creative way to connect carers and the wider community with the care research currently underway at the University of Exeter.”

Leo’s previous works raised awareness of the sacrifices made by service men and women during World War One and were projected onto landmarks in Exeter, Bristol, and Plymouth.

Artist Leo Jamelli said: “Caring is a subject close to my heart having seen first-hand the hard work that carers put in to looking after loved ones. I hope that with the Invisible Carer installation I have created an insightful piece of visual public art that will raise public awareness as well as help invisible carers to feel valued and recognised.”

The Wellcome Trust project saw archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians working with health researchers, carers, and community organisations to establish a family care research network and develop plans for research to understand the history of family care. The researchers think lessons from the past – including skeletal evidence of care from the Neolithic period and diary entries and letters about care from the Middle Ages – as well as care practices from different cultures, might be the key to better supporting carers in the UK today.

Dr Catriona Mckenzie, Senior Lecturer in Human Osteoarchaeology, the study of human skeletal remains, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Leo Jamelli throughout his fellowship. His work highlights the invaluable work, undertaken by family carers in households across Exeter and the UK.”

The Invisible Carer is a free public artwork, on display at the St Catherine’s Almshouse (EX1 1EU) from 8.00pm on 20th and 21stSeptember.

Date: 19 September 2019