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Artist Launches London Exhibition In Support Of Children’s Cleft Charity
March 3 - March 13
Katie Manning, artist, and mother of three from Oxford, is launching an art exhibition in March to raise awareness of cleft and Smile Train UK, the international children’s cleft charity.
The exhibition titled ‘Portraits’ will run from 3rd – 13th March at The Brick Lane Gallery in Bethnal Green, London. Katie’s hand-drawn collection will display 30 portraits of children born worldwide with a cleft. Some of the children shown in the exhibition have directly benefited from Smile Train’s free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care services, allowing them to live whole and healthy lives.
The exhibition will be Katie’s first since she was a student at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, where she studied Textile Art and Surface Decoration. The artist was inspired to embark on the artistic adventure following her family’s own experiences of clefts – her eldest daughter was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and her husband was born with a unilateral cleft.
A cleft is the most common facial difference globally, affecting around 1 in 700 babies each year. However, while supporting her daughter through cleft surgery and subsequent orthodontic work and speech therapy, Katie noticed that there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding associated with a cleft. This often stems from a lack of awareness and knowledge of what a cleft is and how differently it can impact individuals and their families for entire lifetimes.
In a bid to tackle this issue, last year, Katie committed to hand-drawing 100 portraits of babies, children and adults born with a cleft. Katie is now launching a ‘preview’ of some of her art, hoping that it will help raise awareness and increase knowledge creatively and powerfully.
Katie has also joined Smile Train UK’s Cleft Community Advisory Council, using lived experience to advise on campaigns and activities and becoming a Smile Train UK ambassador to raise awareness for the charity. Katie is passionate about Smile Train’s work and has set up a dedicated Just Giving page in support of the charity.
In the UK, cleft surgery is carried out within the first 12 months of a baby’s life by the National Health Service (NHS). However, hundreds of thousands of children living in resource-poor communities worldwide are not as fortunate and do not have access to the lifesaving cleft treatment they desperately need.
Smile Train uses a unique and sustainable model of empowering local medical professionals and hospitals with the tools they need to complete free surgeries and an entire programme of aftercare. Over the last 21 years, the charity has supported safe and quality cleft care for 1.5+ million children and will continue to do so until every person in need of a cleft has access to the care they deserve.
A selection of Katie’s collection will be on sale at The Brick Lane Gallery for a limited time. Entry to the exhibition is free, and the portraits will be sold at the starting value of £125.00.