Exhibition showcases Ian's photographic talent while raising vital funds for charity

A Forfar man who is living with motor neurone disease (MND) has mounted a fundraising photography exhibition at the town’s Whitehills Community Hospital.
​Ian Bain with some of his work, which is being exhibited at Whitehills Community Hospital.​Ian Bain with some of his work, which is being exhibited at Whitehills Community Hospital.
​Ian Bain with some of his work, which is being exhibited at Whitehills Community Hospital.

Ian Bain had been a keen lifelong athlete, a rugby player since the age of 12 and, when he turned 50, he took up competing in triathlons until he was diagnosed with the disease.

(MND) is a rapidly progressing neurological condition, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This causes muscle weakness and wasting and rob someone of the ability to walk, talk, swallow and breathe unaided.

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The average life expectancy of someone with MND is just 18 months from diagnosis and there is no cure or effective treatment.

He 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 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.”

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Grants from MND Scotland to help Ian fund the building of a small photography studio in his garden as well as helping with the costs of printing and framing materials, with his Language Therapy Team also helping to arrange the exhibition.

Along with showcasing his photography skills, the exhibition, which runs until October 28, will also raise funds for the charity.

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 some of the art of Forfar’s murals trail.

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!

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“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.

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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.”

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 anyway.

“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.”

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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 what we have around us. From fantastic landscapes and wildlife to macro photography, the limitations are 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.”

Angela Harris, director of support development, 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.”

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