Stevenage photographer opens 'dream' exhibition inspired by Fairlands Valley Park
PUBLISHED: 06:55 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:43 25 November 2019
A Stevenage photographer has discussed the impact of art on his mental health, after opening his debut public exhibition last Friday.
Faysal Hassan, 24, unveiled his 'Fair Lands of Freedom' porfolio in the Gordon Craig Theatre on Friday evening, and was "overwhelmed" by the incredible turnout - having kept the project secret from his family.
The commercial photographer, - who specialises in fashion and editorial - says his art "explores narratives of identity and eccentric beauty, demonstrated through the performance of models, makeup and styling.
"My work is about capturing nonconformism, individual freedom and the liberation of self," Faysal said.
"My whole work, and what I personally stand for, has always been about female empowerment. I love to make women look powerful with my imagery.
"That really stems from the values that I respect, and the strong women in my life. My mum, my nan and my auntie have been the backbone of what I do."
But for Faysal, seeing his work on public display is all the more poignant, having struggled with his mental health as a student at Arts University Bournemouth.
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"At university I was diagnosed with major anxiety and depression. I struggled to deal with my emotions.
"Beginning to appreciate the beauty of nature I was surrounded by - and took for granted when growing up - was so important. Fairlands Valley Park became my sanctuary, my land of freedom."
But while poor mental health has impacted so much of his life, Faysal says it has also helped him expand his "mind and artwork".
"Art has helped me realise there is always hope, light and faith in dark times. It has become my release and my way of expression.
"There are so many wonderful individuals in this town doing amazing things, and I feel it is our time to come together and break down the stigma.
"I cannot emphasise how truly humbled, grateful and honoured I am to share my art with my loved ones and the general public. Dreams do come true."
If you are interested in purchasing Faysal's work, prints are for sale at the Gordon Craig Theatre Box Office - with the exhibtion scheduled to run until January 26, 2020.
For more information, contact Faysal at firstname.lastname@example.org.