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Guardian photo exhibition celebrates charity SafeHands for Mothers’ 10th anniversary

08:00 30 January 2013

Nancy Durrell McKenna will exhibit her photographs at the Guardian Building to celebrate the 10th anniversary of SafeHands for Mothers. Picture: Polly Hancock

Nancy Durrell McKenna will exhibit her photographs at the Guardian Building to celebrate the 10th anniversary of SafeHands for Mothers. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Child-birth can be the happiest moment in a woman’s life, but for many in the developing world it is an experience fraught with pain and trauma.

Nancy Durrell McKenna set up Hampstead-based charity, SafeHands for Mothers, 10 years ago to campaign for better maternal and new-born health across the world using photography and film-making.

Next Tuesday (February 5), the 61-year-old photographer will celebrate the charity’s 10th anniversary with an exhibition of her award-winning images at the Guardian Building in York Way, King’s Cross.

She said: “To have the recognition of the Guardian has been wonderful, thousands of people will pass through the buildings and I hope they will now stop and look at these images, read the captions, and look at the stories behind the images.”

It will be her first exhibition for 20 years, despite a CV which boasts a gold award at the New York Film Festival and collaborations with organisations like UNICEF and Oxfam.

“I don’t need to have a pretty little gallery where people will pat me on the back and tell me I’m doing a good job,” said the photographer.

“What will make me very proud is that I’ve taken every one of those pictures, and there is something about that women and that child, that has affected me.”

Mrs Durrell McKenna is already a household name in UK maternity hospitals for her award winning birthing films and now shoots images and films which help and educate the world about women’s rights.

The Canadian-born photographer started the charity in her garden studio in Fitzjohn’s Avenue almost 20 years after arriving in the UK with her husband, armed only with a bean sprout plant and a Mini.

Since then, she has travelled to 12 countries to educate women in the developing world through her birthing films.

“You don’t need to speak a language, you can hold somebody’s hand, or face, you can look into their eyes and cry with them or laugh with them, and that goes far deeper than words,” she said.

At the exhibition she hopes to raise money for a new solar powered film camera pioneered by SafeHands.

The cameras will enable the charity to take educational films to remote rural areas across the developing world to help increase access to safe maternal healthcare and women’s rights.

The exhibition at the Guardian Building in Kings Place, York Way, is open to the public from Monday (February 4) until February 17 from 10am-6pm daily. To donate to SafeHands for Mothers via text, text SHFM13 £3 to 70070

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