For our third blog post for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we go back to 2015 and our famously cheeky ‘handprints’ shoot! We know it’s a crowd pleaser, but this shoot is also very much about a crucial aspect of how men too often neglect their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. It’s about intimacy and connection.
The world is changing fast, and how we interact with each other is possibly changing faster than anything else. Many of us now give more attention to screens and keyboards than to each other. Of course, that has been particularly true during the pandemic – screens and keyboards have been the only way to reach out and stay in touch.
But even before the pandemic hit us all, there had been a growing loss of human contact, even though we might have felt more connected than ever. Many of us were glued to our screens, not looking at each other, not talking, not touching.
The nudity in the WR project brings our participants a sense of intimacy and physical freedom with other men that has been lacking for many of us. It makes them conscious of that absence of connection. In 2015 this was something we wanted to explore further, and we decided that handprints were the way to do it.
Touching each other with paint helped the rowers in these images to break through barriers that all men learn to put up as boys. It also allowed them to put that their commitment to connection on the record.
Now, as vaccination offers the hope of a return to more physical contact, let’s use this opportunity to make mindful intimacy and ‘real world’ connection a more conscious part of how we care for ourselves and each other.
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