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Former College of West Anglia photographer shines light on ‘face blindness’


By Eve Tawfick


A former College of West Anglia student is hoping her project will help to raise awareness of a rare brain condition.

The pictures were created by Rebecca Hutchings during her major project at the college.

They show distorted facial images and are crafted to represent the daily struggle of those suffering from a little known condition called prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness.

The condition can develop after brain injury, and causes sufferers to have trouble with facial recognition.

Friends and family can look like complete strangers.

Rebecca Hutchings' work
Rebecca Hutchings' work

Shockingly, in some cases, even their own faces can become unrecognisable when looking in a mirror.

Now, Rebecca has sold the collection to the brain injury charity Headway.

And she hopes they will help to raise awareness of a condition which affects around three per cent of the UK population, and which she herself did not know about before starting the project.

The condition got considerable press following the novel The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder, by Sarah Harris, published in May 2018, where the protagonist is a prosopagnosia sufferer.

One of Rebecca Hutchings’ pictures showing the challenge of prosopagnosia
One of Rebecca Hutchings’ pictures showing the challenge of prosopagnosia

She said: “Without my project I would not have known about it. It’s important to appreciate that you never really know what someone has been through/is going through.

“If someone doesn’t recognise you, or seems confused, it may not be intentional.

“I aim to encourage people to question the meaning behind them and to hopefully learn more about the condition.”

Representing the daily struggle of those suffering from a little known condition called prosopagnosia
Representing the daily struggle of those suffering from a little known condition called prosopagnosia

Rebecca is in close contact with a charity called FaceBlindUK as well as the Headway charity based in West Norfolk.

Hazel Plastow, who heads up Face Blind UK and lives with prosopagnosia, said: “The photos are very interesting, and I found it interesting to reflect on my emotional response to the disrupted images – for me: feeling thrown off balance and frustrated by the missing information.”

The pictures were created by Rebecca Hutchings
The pictures were created by Rebecca Hutchings


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