Big Brother is an intimate photographic portrayal of Justin, photographer Louis Quail’s older brother, and his daily struggle with schizophrenia. The work encompasses timeless themes of health, society, love and family, whilst dealing uncompromisingly with the more immediate struggle of life on the edge of society in an age of austerity, politics and shambolic government care.
Justin, who lives in west London, has been sectioned three times in his life and his condition is severe. But as the project gives an insight into Justin’s life and personality, we see there is more to him than just his illness. Justin has many interests and hobbies, especially bird-watching, painting and poetry. And he has love in his life, through the 20 year old relationship he has with his girlfriend Jackie.
Big Brother employs photography, medical and police notes, art and poetry, narration and testimony and shows a life in light and shade, revealing the person beyond the illness: challenging our prejudices towards mental health. The work also reveals a system in crisis; under resourced, creaking under the weight of its own bureaucracy and discovers important truths on the nature of resilience.
At its heart however, Big Brother is really a love story: about a brother’s love for Justin and his love for others.
FORMAT19 – University of Derby, Derby 15th March – 14th April