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Face-to-face with Alison’s photos

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By Rod Edgar
Dumfries and West
Face-to-face with Alison's photos

A COLLECTION of photographs showing the work of doctors rebuilding faces in Africa is the first exhibition at a venue in Dumfries.

The Usual Place is hosting ‘Face to Face’ – created by Alison Boyes of Dumfries after spending two weeks in Ethiopia in October working for the charity Facing Africa.
Alison, 54, said: “They’re involved in facial reconstruction.
“It started because the founder, Chris Lawrence, heard about a horrible disease called Noma which is a flesh-eating disease that affects very young children.
“Ninety per cent of them die, but the survivors have horrible facial disfigurement – they lose their nose, their jaw and most of their teeth, and they go into seclusion, most of them.”
Alison’s husband David Ball recently retired as an anaesthetist at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, and for the last four years has volunteered as a member of surgical teams assembled for two weeks, twice a year.
Alison said: “It’s very intense, and during that time they can do 30 or 40 operations.”
In October, Alison went out with David to Addis Ababa to serve as official photographer documenting the project, surgical progress, and helping to create a brochure for the charity.
A former doctor herself, Alison acknowledges the extent of some injuries, including one boy who underwent a 13 hour operation after losing the lower half of his face in an attack by a hyena.
She said: “The first time you see them it can be a bit shocking, but then you just begin to think of them as human beings with a problem to solve, and their own personality.”
Alison says nobody refused to be photographed, with most relaxed and grateful for the free treatment, with some having travelled from as far as South Sudan.
Currently an HND photography student at Dumfries and Galloway College, Alison was encouraged to put on an exhibition as part of her course and to help raise funds for the charity.
Launching her exhibition, Alison said: “I tried not to put too graphic pictures up, because I didn’t want to shock people too much, but there are a few that will be quite challenging.”
But she added: “You can look at them and gaze at them for as long as you like, take it in, and give them the dignity of a response.”

The exhibition runs Monday to Friday, concluding on Friday February 12 with a talk by David Ball at 5.30 pm.

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