Forfar man living with MND holds photography exhibition

Ian Bain, from Forfar, Angus, who is living with motor neuron disease (MND), is currently holding a photography exhibition at Whitehills Community Hospital Forfar.  

Along with showcasing Ian’s photography skills, the exhibition has been organised to raise money for MND Scotland that will help to fund pioneering MND research and provide other people in Scotland affected by this devastating disease with vital services.  

Ian was able to use grants provided by MND Scotland to help fund building a small photography studio in his garden. The charity was also able to help with the costs of printing and framing materials, with his Language Therapy Team also kindly helping to arrange the exhibition.    

You can help to make time count for people like Ian and their families, so they can spend the time they have making precious memories and pursue what matters to them, by donating to our making time count campaign today.  

Having played Rugby since the age of twelve, prior to being diagnosed with MND, Ian’s main hobby for decades was playing sport.   

He said: “I played rugby for most of my life up until I turned fifty. Then, as I liked running, swimming and biking, I thought why not take up Triathlons? However, as the disease progressed, I obviously found that I couldn’t keep pursuing that.”  

Motor neuron disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing terminal neurological illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This causes muscle weakness and wasting. MND can rob someone of the ability to walk, talk, swallow and breathe unaided. The average life expectancy of someone with MND is just 18 months from diagnosis. There is no cure or effective treatments.     

Recalling when he first started to show potential symptoms of MND, Ian said: “I did a lot training for triathlons and noticed my times started decreasing when swimming and could feel I didn’t have the same strength in my left arm. Even prior to that, just after I turned fifty, my wife noticed my arm had started to randomly twitch.” 

Despite living with MND, Ian still managed to continue to compete in Triathlons up until a year after receiving the life-altering news.   

He continued: “I needed a hobby to fill the void that sport had occupied, and I had always liked photography, but it was just the normal family, holiday snaps. I had an itch to learn more so I joined a local Camera club (Brechin Photography Society) where I made new friends, learned a lot from various talks by photographers from all over the UK and was taught how to use the camera.”  

Since beginning his journey into the world of photography, Ian has also become a member of the Dundee photography society and has gone on to win various competitions along with having his photographs used as reference material for community art and murals.   

Ian said: “I entered a competition a few years ago run by Forfar Community Council for photography of local interest. I won the competition, resulting in my photograph being enlarged to twenty by fifteen feet and being hung on a gable end of a pub just two minutes away from my house, which I see most days!  

“Leading on from that the community decided to ask local artists to paint various walls with their art. I had an empty wall myself at the time, so I volunteered that space for local artists to paint something. The community council ask if I had a brief so I sent several photos of what I would like on the wall and the result was fantastic.”  

Ian has also gone on to have articles about his condition and flair for photography featured in both his photography club’s magazine as well as iScot magazine.

He continued: “From striking up a friendship with the two artists, they had been commissioned to do another mural but at Forfar Loch and the brief was Birds of the Loch. So, as I had been taking wildlife photos around the Loch for years, I had a portfolio full of birds and I sent them to the artist, which they again used as their reference. It’s a great feeling when I see the murals and know both are more or less based on my photography.”   

Although Ian’s condition has progressed and it has continually become more difficult for him to get out, he has not let this hold him back from his passion.   

On adapting to the challenges created by MND, Ian said: “As my mobility and dexterity have declined, I’ve adapted my photography to more studio work. You can see flowers in my exhibition video that were done with my camera on a copy stand and looking down onto a light box.  

“If I am out, I have to use a tripod or mono stick to hold my camera. Just in the past week I had the TORT Centre at Ninewells Hospital make me a bracket that I can attach my camera to, so when I am out in my mobility chair, I can still take photos.” 

You can watch Ian’s exhibition video here.  

Thanking everyone for their support, he said: “The exhibition has really been the icing on the cake for me and I would like to thank my family and my MND specialist nurse, Carolynn, as well as everyone else who has supported my exhibition in any way.  

“Thank you also to the MND Scotland fundraisers for raising money that has helped me to keep doing what I enjoy and made an extremely difficult situation that bit more bearable.”  

Finishing with advice for anyone interested in taking up photography, Ian said: “My advice would be to give photography a go. It will open your eyes and you will find a new appreciation for whatwe have around us. From fantastic landscapes and wildlife to macro photography, the limitationsare endless. We have travelled to Africa, Japan, USA, Europe and captured moments that are now frozen in time through my images.   

“Photography has opened my eyes to so many things that days gone by I would have missed. I have been able to capture my life through a lens and it’s made me appreciate the world around me.”  

Thanking Ian for his support, Director of Support Development, Angela Harris, said: “It is fantastic to learn about how we have been able to help support Ian in pursuing his passion for photography and we’re deeply grateful for his dedication to making time count for other people affected by MND. 

“Thanks to Ian showcasing his wonderful work, more people across Scotland affected by MND are now able to make their precious time count in the way the matters to them.” 

“Good luck with the rest of the exhibition, Ian and thank you for your support! Together, we will make the count and beat MND.”

There’s still time to visit Ian’s exhibition which will run until 28th October and you can find out more information, here.


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