Juergen Teller unveils photographs of Demelza Children’s Hospice for new exhibition
Demelza Kids, a new series of photographs by internationally acclaimed photographer Juergen Teller, will go on display for the first time in a new exhibition at Bonhams New Bond Street, London, from 10 to 16 April 2019.
Demelza Kids by Juergen Teller is a visual story of the children cared for by Demelza Hospice Care for Children at its centres in Kent and South East London. The aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness of the charity, which provides specialist care and emotional support for hundreds of children with terminal conditions and their families.
In 2018, Demelza invited Juergen to visit its hospices in Sittingbourne and Eltham and document its crucial, life enhancing work with local babies, children and young people who have terminal conditions and are in need of support. He made multiple trips to the hospices and dedicated much of his personal time to getting to know the children and their families, sometimes visiting them at their homes if they were unable to travel. Initially taking his professional SLR camera, Juergen quickly swapped to his less intrusive mobile phone so that he could integrate himself into the hospices as sensitively as possible.
Juergen Teller says of Demelza Kids: ‘I approached this project as I do with any other: the same respect, directness and honesty – how I truly felt it should be done – the way I might photograph a portrait of a friend, a celebrity, a landscape scene or my own children. I photographed the children as honestly as I could without shying away from the brutal truth of what I was confronting.
‘What struck me most was the overwhelmingly warm response from the parents and how thankful they were. To see and feel the parents’ pure love, patience, care and the challenges they face was the most amazing and touching experience. Working with Demelza has moved me deeply.’
Ryan Campbell CBE, chief executive of Demelza, said: ‘Demelza provides hospice care for children with terminal conditions, but there is so much more involved with what we do than those words convey – our work is about life, not death. The images in Demelza Kids convey it much better. There is more joy, laughter and fun than there is sadness. Children are children; the children we have the privilege to work with are amazing and inspiring, and that is why we have partnered with Juergen Teller. These families want to be seen, not hidden away and pitied.
‘We are hugely grateful to Juergen for bringing his kindness and integrity to the project and using his unique skills to create awareness amongst a whole new and powerful group of potential supporters, which will enable us to help many more children and families make the most of their often limited but incredibly special time together.’
Juergen is considered to be one of the most important photographers of his generation. He has successfully navigated both the art world and commercial photography since beginning his career in the late 1980s, shooting high profile fashion campaigns for brands such as Celine, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Vivienne Westwood. He has published over 40 artist books and exhibition catalogues since 1996, which blur the boundaries between his commissioned and personal work. His work has been acquired by major museums across the world. He currently holds a Professorship of Photography at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg.
Demelza was founded in 1998 by Derek and Jennifer Phillips following the death of their daughter. Demelza has grown to provide specialist care and emotional support for babies, children and young people up to the age of 19 including access to lif enhancing facilities. It supports around 750 families each year across South East London, Kent and East Sussex. Facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, a music room, cinema, art room, soft play area and a sensory room.
Images: Demelza Kids No.8, 2018 ©Juergen Teller, All rights Reserved; Demelza Kids No.20, 2018 ©Juergen Teller, All rights Reserved; Demelza Kids No.6, 2018 ©Juergen Teller, All rights Reserved