The Define Project


I love seeing creative collaboration. Here is a really neat one, with a worthy cause to boot.

It all started by a conversation in a coffee shop in Fredericton between two creative friends, surface designer Dee Wilkie and photographer Lance Kenneth Blakney. They each had a similar idea to create a photoshoot to initiate conversations about mental illness. The idea was to showcase real stories that represented a series of mental illnesses to try to break through the wall of stigma still associated with mental health. They reached out to their friends at Wear Your Label, who then put out a call for story submissions to find role models who would represent the different mental illnesses. The response was overwhelming, with over 200 applicants from all over Eastern Canada looking to be a part of the project. They narrowed it down to nine role models to represent addiction, ADHD, anxiety, eating disorder, mood disorder, personality disorder, PTSD, self-harm and sexual assault. Dee dyed yards of fabric with colours and textures that she thought would illustrate each illness, and then the photographer, designer and role model worked with the fabric to create a shot that conveyed the emotion and poignancy of each story. The team came up with these stunning shots, as well as a powerful video. Here is the Define Project.

This project really resonated with me. The colours and movement of the fabric illustrate the anguish and visceral quality of mental illness in a way which, when paired with the stories, connect the reader with a concept which is really hard to grasp unless you've experienced it. The photographer managed to capture moments and emotions which drive home the fact that mental illness is of a desperately personal nature. The project demonstrates that it is only by listening to each other's stories that we will understand and love each other through mental illness, and help those suffering from it to get better. Thanks for this project, and if it strikes a chord with you the reader, do share it and perhaps inspire someone who is struggling to tell their story.