A thought-provoking new exhibition has launched at the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine this week, featuring the work of a talented group of contributors with learning disabilities.

‘How We See Ourselves’ uses poetry, visual art and animation to move the lives, interests, talents and challenges of people with learning disabilities – as well as those who support them – from being a marginal conversation within communities to a central focus.

The exhibition provides a multi-media invitation for us all to pause and ask ‘how we see ourselves’ as individuals and as a collective, as well as reflecting on inclusion in its broadest sense.

Over the past four months, customers and staff of Trindlemoss Day Opportunities in Irvine, along with members of North Ayrshire Neighbourhood Networks groups, have been working on the project alongside poet Simon Lamb, visual artist Lynn McNally and filmmaker Jim Gibb.

Together, they created the diverse range of artworks on display at the exhibition, which was formally launched at a well-attended event held on Tuesday, September 5, marking the culmination of a joyful but intense period of creativity.

In addition to the pieces displayed on the gallery walls, visitors can watch an inspiring short film featuring animations based on the words and artwork created by the participants, as well as segments from the artists and staff involved in the project. A version of the video with BSL translation is also on display.

The project was made possible thanks to funding from the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, with the team behind it being particularly grateful for the support of Arran CVS over the course of its development.

One Neighbourhood Networks member who was involved in the project said: "It gave me something to get out the house for, otherwise I would be at home by myself on the computer.

"I met new people and enjoyed taking part in the group sessions with everyone. The launch event was amazing – I’m buzzing! I’m so happy at how the poems and video turned out, and I cant wait to bring my family over to see it."

Irvine Times: Councillor Margaret Johnson at the exhibitionCouncillor Margaret Johnson at the exhibition (Image: NAC)

Poet Simon Lamb, who has been working with the artists throughout the project, as well as providing the voiceovers for the poetry in the exhibition film, said: “I am so happy to have played a role in this incredible project. I’ve learned so much and met some awesome, inspiring folk. I’m heart-happy.

“It has been a privilege to voice their voices and I hope I have done them justice. Through creation, we really can express ‘how we see ourselves’.”

Councillor Margaret Johnson, cabinet member for health and social care at North Ayrshire Council, said: “This fantastic exhibition portrays a real sense of togetherness and connection, acknowledging shared experiences across communities often defined more by their perceived difference and support needs than their talents and joy.

“I was particularly moved by the drawings on entering the exhibition. The vibrancy of the colours radiated a feeling of happiness. I was so pleased to see the tactile work done on Angora wool too. It was so imaginative.

"The video of the poetry was both thought-provoking and poignant and I look forward to attending this exhibition again within the wider North Ayrshire community.

“We’d like to thank everyone who made this event possible, but in particular we’d like to thank the customers of Trindlemoss Day Opportunities and Neighbourhood Networks members who have worked so hard to share their thoughts, hopes and aspirations through these inspiring pieces of art.”

‘How We See Ourselves’ runs until Saturday, October 21 in the back gallery space of the Harbour Arts Centre, Harbour Street, Irvine. Admission is free and no booking is required.

Opening hours are 9.30am to 4.30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9.30am to 5pm on Fridays and 9am to 4.30pm on Saturdays.