Carol Mayer, Burn Survivor And Former Beauty Queen, Sends A Powerful Message With Her Nude Portrait
Humanity and empathy go hand in hand. We are meant to feel bad about another living being’s pain and anyone who lacks any empathy is treated as someone that requires clinical help. And what does empathy make us do? We try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and attempt to understand how they must have felt. But sometimes, we find it difficult to even begin to imagine how it feels because never in our lives have we come anywhere close experiencing what that person has gone through.
How can we imagine how it feels to be on fire? Or to be living with burns? We cry even when we get a slight burn so how do we even begin to imagine that? We can’t but we know it must require immense strength, courage, and altering of perceptions to survive such a sharp turn in your life.
Around 20 years ago, Carol Mayer was 33 when her house caught a massive fire and she suffered 85 per cent burns on her body. She was a beauty queen from Cairns, Queensland, Australia and is a mother of a son. She doesn’t recollect of how it all went down and just knows that she and her son managed to escape and survive.
View this post on Instagram
… my portrait of burns survivor Carol Mayer as it now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery Canberra as part of the National Photographic Portrait Prize Exhibition 2017. #nppp #nationalphotographicportraitprize #nationalportraitgallery #portraits #burnssurvivor #carolmayer #
With her body covered in burn scars, she was surprised when Brian Cassey, a photographer and photojournalist asked her if he could do her portrait. It would require her to expose her scarred body and with a lot of courage, she decided to do it. They collaborated to create some stunning, powerful portraits titled ‘The Skin I’m In’. Carol told DailyMail, “With burns it is physically and mentally hard for any human to go through. But if you’ve got that real fighting spirit, which is what I have, that’s what has got me through, sheer grit and determination.” She further added, “I just wasn’t going to let it beat me and when Brian approached me, I just thought this is a fantastic opportunity to show somebody the raw side of me.”
She had a 50% chance of survival. Mayor was in a coma for eight weeks and in ICU for nine months. Today, she is brave enough to speak of her story and hopes that it will help other survivors find their strength. “You’re always trying to find something in a photograph that is meaningful and different and perhaps can make a little difference,” Mayor told ABC News. “I just thought, ‘What a fantastic idea, to just put it out for other burns survivors to see’,” she concluded.
View this post on Instagram
‘Pics in Space’ … Out of This World with ‘Portrait of Humanity’ … #2 … 'The Skin I'm In'' © Brian Cassey I mentioned a few weeks ago in a Facebook post that I had some exciting news that I couldn't at the time reveal … I can now ! Announced last eve by 'Portrait of Humanity' … a project of British Journal of Photography. … "In the ultimate celebration of humankind and the home we share, Portrait of Humanity 2020 will be exhibited in Space. In a feat never before achieved with a photographic exhibition, 200 shortlisted images will be used to broadcast a message of peace and unity from humankind to infinity. Our partner, 'Sent Into Space', will launch a screen into the stratosphere with a 360° camera, so photographers can see their images displayed against the extraordinary backdrop of Space. The images will then be beamed onwards in binary code, travelling unimpeded through the solar system at the speed of light. These messages could continue on an infinite journey — or until another civilisation receives and decodes them." The best bit is that they have selected TWO of my images to make the journey into the stratosphere and beyond … "Ramnami" (a portrait of tattooed Maherttar Ram Tandon in Chhattisgarh, India) … .. and … "The Skin I'm In" (this portrait of the wonderful Cairns burns survivor Carol Ann Mayer). All the 'shortlisted' images have also been collected into a 'Portrait of Humanity Volume 2' book. (Carol … I have one on order for you !). Read more here … https://www.briancasseyphotographer.com/blog/stories-blog/2020/06/pics-in-space-out-of-this-world-with-portrait-of-humanity/ @BJPoto Images © Brian Cassey @bjp1854 @BJPhoto @1854 #1854media #portraitofhumanity #magnum #portraiture #picsinspace #ramnani #portraitphotography #photographicportraits
Her portrait has been nominated for the Portrait of Humanity 2020 award, organised by the British Journal of Photography. In September, 100 winners will be displayed on a screen 111,000ft above Earth like never before.