Photographer gains degree with his autobiographical picture portrayal of life with a disability

Photographer gains degree with his autobiographical picture portrayal of life with a disability

Photography graduate Jordan Mossom, 23, has praised University of Cumbria for supporting him to study for and gain a degree while living with a rare muscle-wasting condition. 

Growing up with a passion for photography, Jordan did not think university would be an option open to him. But he is now a proud member of University of Cumbria’s Class of 2020, successfully completing his degree this summer and seeing his work recognised by an international photography magazine. 

Jordan, who lives with his family in Maryport, west Cumbria, said: “Whilst I want to give people an insight into some of the things they may take for granted, I also want to give those who are diagnosed with the condition reassurance that life isn’t scary, to show what happens and what can be achieved.” 

He uses his final exhibition, a series of striking images, to build awareness and help others living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

‘Daytime Disability’ is a snapshot of the daily support from carers and equipment Jordan relies upon to allow him to carry out tasks like eating, bathing and getting dressed, and to enjoy a quality of life that most people take for granted.  

BA (Hons) Photography graduate Jordan captured his images in the first months of the coronavirus lockdownbetween March and May.  

They not only show Jordan using items such as a ventilator and hoist but provide a personal insight into his relationship with support workers Lauren, Brooke and Heather. 

Jordan is the first University of Cumbria photography graduate to have their work selected by the international photography review Source to feature in its annual graduate showcase. Source panel member Brenda Fitzsimmons, picture editor of The Irish Times, selected ‘Daytime Disability’, describing Jordan’s reportage style as ‘compelling’ which focuses ‘relationships and trust in a therapeutic setting’.  

Support and facilities at the university’s Brampton Road campus, Carlisle have played their part. 

Jordan said: Everyone has been very friendly and supportive and the facilities like the dark room are fantastic. They've helped make university a real experience for me and given me confidence to do this. 

Initially it was thought I may have to defer for a year for accessibility adjustments to be made but I was glad to be able to start in September 2017A new changing place was created on campus whilst I was on the course; some challenges did take more time than others to overcome. 

The tutors and technicians have been incredibly supportive. For instance, there'd be times Id be late for lectures due to transport delays. The size of our cohort meant that when I was lateI was still able to join the group and they’d be able to help me straight awaybring me up to speed on what I’d missed.” 

Jordan’s documentary project features among the work of 129 final-year arts students on 2020Vision, a website that is the first fully digital showcase of those completing courses at the university’s Institute of the Arts. 

Raising awareness, Jordan encourages those visiting his online exhibition space to learn more about his condition with Muscular Dystrophy UK. 

Kate Adcock, Director of Research and Innovation, Muscular Dystrophy UK said: “We congratulate Jordan on having achieved this terrific degree. We also applaud the University of Cumbria for supporting his studies throughout. The images for his final project, taken despite the extra effort needed during lockdown, are wonderful. This is an outstanding example of someone with a muscle wasting condition making every day count. I’m excited to see how his career progresses.” 

University of Cumbria photography lecturer Rob Sara said: “Daytime Disability is a project that has brought some emotions out of Jordan that are normally hidden behind closed doors out of embarrassment on having to rely on medical equipment and support staff to retain independence. 

It has taken lots of confidence for him to show some of these emotions for the first time in a project that will be seen by many people, far and wide, from the public, to friends and family, and to fellow photographers.” 

University of Cumbria’s Clearing hotline is now open. It is available by calling 0808 178 7373 or online at www.cumbria.ac.uk/clearing