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Black art raising spirits

POSITIVE: Centre exhibition a ‘tonic’ for sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia sufferers

THE HEALING power of art is being put to the test with an exhibition of images – and they are proving to be a ‘tonic’ for sufferers of sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.

Top quality black and white images are gracing the walls of a centre which houses a charity devoted to supporting people with these conditions.

The creator behind the images is 28-year-old Wolverhampton-born professional artist and photographer Cascade Gordon, who has taken pictures in the UK and Jamaica as part of her exhibition called The Beauty of Being B.L.A.C.K.

“The initials B.L.A.C.K do not actually stand for anything officially – it’s up to the viewer to interpret them as something positive,” explains Cascade, who hopes to further expand her collection of photographs with pictures from Africa.

“All too often the concept of being black carries a negative image. A lot of African-Caribbean women do not accept their bodies for what they are – there is simply too much pressure on people to be a size zero.”

Cascade explains that some of her photographs are of people she knows, here and in Jamaica, while others were simply opportunistic moments where she struck up a rapport with her subject.


She says: “One of my photographs is of Mr Patterson, someone who came from Jamaica to help rebuild the UK economy in the 1950s. He had planned to return to Jamaica earlier, but didn’t do so until very recently.

“Now he’s starting again in the country of his birth, helping to set up a community building and working with local police to stop young people getting involved in crime.”

Other images include a laughing pregnant woman, and serene views which encourage feelings of tranquillity.

The exhibition, known as the Arts for Health project, is being held in the new exhibition space at OSCAR Sandwell’s offices at 120 Lodge Road, West Bromwich. OSCAR stands for the Organisation for Sickle Cell Anaemia Research and Thalassaemia Support.

It was launched in 1988 to counsel, advise and support sufferers of sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder which affects the red blood cells, contorting them into a ‘sickle’ shape which damages blood vessels, causing a range of symptoms.

Over the years staff at OSCAR have worked hard to inform sufferers and dispel myths about the condition, which predominantly affects people of African, Asian and Mediterranean origin, but can affect any community.

Lorna Patterson, who has worked as an administrator for OSCAR for many years, said: “Over the years we’ve helped hundreds of people, whether it’s simply giving them information or supporting them on hospital visits.

“It used to affect mainly people with Caribbean and Asian backgrounds but now with so many mixed heritage relationships it is no longer seen as simply a black condition.”

Cascade’s exhibition will also include a series of Christmas and general greeting cards, available at OSCAR until Christmas. Her photographs will then be shown at other venues across the West Midlands next year.

“I’ve had a lot of positive comments about them,” says Cascade, who grew up in Birmingham. “A calming image can be uplifting and a tonic, and that’s what I hope my photographs will be for many people.”

For more information about OSCAR, visit

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