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RAW Courage – Canberra’s Little Heroes

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Last year, something happened that brought Canberra’s creatives out of their studios, garages and spare rooms and put them fairly and squarely in the limelight.

That something was RAW: Natural Born Artists – an international and “independent arts organisation, for artists, by artists.”

Introduced to Canberra by the rather amazing Sarina Del Fuego, RAW operates in around 60 cities across the US, Australia, Canada and the UK, with a mission is to provide independent artists  from a variety of fields (including filmmaking, fashion, musicians, visual artists, performance artists, hairstylists and makeup artists) with the tools, within the early years of their career, to cultivate and inspire creativity.

The latest chapter of RAW Artists Canberra – Revolution – will be unveiled next Wednesday 28 May, and features a dizzying array of local talent including Belinda France of Belle Photography. Belinda has gained a reputation as a first class children’s photographer and the theme of her RAW exhibition – Little Canberran Heroes – shows why.

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Inspired by her family’s and friends’ experiences, Belinda wanted to showcase Canberra’s little fighters, while collecting donations for Ronald McDonald House Canberra.

“I have a younger sister with a disability and have grown up seeing how much she’s – and my parents – have had to fight in life. I also have friends and family who have ‘little heroes’, such as my niece who was born prematurely and my friend’s son who was born at just 28 weeks,” says Belinda.

“I wanted to feature something special but at the same time it needed to be uplifting, bright, cheery and local and be my favourite genre of photography – children and their ability to make people smile.”

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After putting out a call on the Belle Photography Facebook page to find ‘models’ for the photoshoot, Belle received messages from locals telling her about their children and stories of epilepsy, cerebral palsy and other disorders.

“It was humbling to say the least and it made my heart just melt,” says Belinda.

“As a result I decided ‘you know what, these kids and parents deserve to have a little day of it and maybe network with some other parents who also have little fighters. I put out a call to friends to see if anyone could help me put a picnic morning together as part of my photoshoot.

“I had several friends contact me with offerings of help, even a friend who had a few dressed up superhero characters come down on motorbikes to say hello. Swish Vintage Canberra offered to style the event with me in a superhero theme, and I handmade capes for each child and accessories which I wanted to look backyard style, innocence in play.”

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Belinda said she was struck by how bright and full of life the eight little superheroes featured in the exhibition were during the shoot, despite the struggles they’ve faced throughout their lives.

“Chaise (below) was born at full term, but not breathing, it took a long time for him to breath then he started having seizures, he was in NICU for two weeks in an induced coma to stop swelling on his brain while being cooled down. He now has cerebral palsy and still has seizures. At the photoshoot he smiled and giggled the whole time even though he was in a wheelchair with both legs in plaster from a recent operation. That’s one tough little superhero to me.”

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Then there was Dominic (below), who was diagnosed with Epilepsy at 19 months of age – Belinda says that his parents told her that ‘one minute he was a healthy happy boy and the next he’d dropped to the ground, and gone floppy and unresponsive’.

“Dominic still has uncontrolled seizures and suffers many different types of seizures. He is now on two different lots of medications and blood tests every 3-6 months to check medication levels. Every hospital visit is very traumatic for him as he now thinks they all involve pain but he is so brave when it comes to taking the medication,” says Belinda.

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Belinda says that she’s excited to be exhibiting as part of RAW, which she describes as “a brilliant showcase of all things art,” and that every photo has a story attached.

“I want people to see what’s behind the face, the little fighter. I also really want people coming along to be touched and feel love in their hearts and just make them smile. Hopefully the photos will also make people appreciate the life they have.”

Thanks to Belle Photography, we have two tickets to RAW Canberra Revolution to give away. For your chance to win, pop over and leave a comment on the Belle Photography Facebook page and tell Belinda why you’d love to go along!

the essentials

What: RAW Canberra: Revolution
When: 7.30pm – midnight, Wednesday 28 May
Where: Uni Pub – 17 London Cct Canberra City
Tickets: On sale now -$15 pre-sale or $20 (cash only) on the door. 18+ only. You can select an artist’s name from the drop-down menu when purchasing to show them some love!
Web: www.rawartists.org/canberra/revolution

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