Ed Ackell by Judith Fox
A heartbreaking exhibition of beautiful photographs is in town until Saturday. Photographer, Judith Fox, shares extraordinarily intimate images of her husband, Ed Ackell, documenting “loving and living with Alzheimer’s”.
Ed was diagnosed just 3 years after he and Judith married. “Over the course of the next twelve years, Fox watched as the man who used to perform surgery, fly planes, and run universities, forgot how to turn on the coffee machine, make a phone call, or remember what his wife had told him two minutes earlier.” Fox completed the project with Ed’s permission and involvement, striking the heartwarming deal that she could expose their privacy as long as she didn’t expose his penis.
The photographs give insight into domestic life and provide hints about the man Judith married, and the man he has become. Ageing and mortality are confronted with compassion and love. Ed is still alive, in professional care. Now that Judith has painfully relinquished the role of sole carer, she is rebuilding her life as an advocate for Ed and for care givers around the world. She also describes herself as an advocate for her ‘future self’ as stats say 1 in 3 people over 65 will die with dementia.
On the gallery walls, Ed is captured washing, curled up sleeping with the cat, sitting alone in a courtyard, emerging naked from bed. There are handsome, wistful portraits, one where he’s sticking his tongue out at his shaving mirror, one with his head in his hands. Each picture is displayed with a touching caption from his wife, suggesting the pleasure and pain of living with someone constantly slipping away from you. A portrait of Ed’s eyes, red rimmed and full of fear, is the most haunting and, as the artist herself admits, was as far as she was willing to go in terms of Ed’s dignity.
Go and see this moving exhibition at Cork Street Gallery, opening Thursday 1 until Saturday 3rd April, 10am-6pm. Free admission. You can buy the beautiful book “I Still Do…” by Judith Fox at Amazon. Visit the Alzheimer’s Society for more information.