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The University of Southampton

People who grew up in care retell their stories through art in Southampton

Published: 13 November 2023
Self portraits of people in care
Stories of people with care experience brought to life in a new art exhibition

The true stories of people who grew up in care are being brought to life in a new art exhibition in Southampton this month.

Portrait of Care, hosted in the city centre, celebrates those who have experience of being looked after or who have been estranged from families through their own photos and paintings.

The free exhibition, on Wednesday 15 November, is being held at the John Hansard Gallery located opposite Southampton’s Guildhall Square.

Its curator Rosie Canning, a University of Southampton student, spent the first 16 years of her life in the care system and said she hopes it will tackle the negative connotations associated with being looked after.

She added: "Almost every care-experienced person comes into contact with discrimination at one point in their lives because of their background.

“By using portraits we hope to de-stigmatise the experience of care as a way to improve perceptions and general public awareness. You cannot tell a person’s care experience from a photograph.”

The one-day exhibition, which starts at 6pm on Wednesday 15 November, is suitable for people aged 16 and older.

Free tickets, which include refreshments, should be booked in advance from

The event has been created by student Rosie and the University of Southampton’s widening participation team, which works to make higher education accessible to all including those who have experienced the care system.

Its access manager Emma Woozeer said: “Our aim is to help break down the stereotypes that people might hold, and to highlight the support we offer as an institution and civic partner.

“It brings a spotlight on those voices, giving a space to talk about the challenges people face, but also the sense of community among those with lived experience, and those who work in area.”

The art displayed at Portrait of Care event has been made by young to middle-aged and older contributors to reflect the changing experiences of the care system.

It opens for just one day in November to promote the National Care Leavers and Estranged Students Solidarity awareness weeks taking place at the end of the month.

Student Rosie added: “I am hoping the inner pre-conceived stereotypes people may have about children in care will come to the fore when looking at the portraits and reading about the lives of people who take part.

“Possibly helping others to re-evaluate their own thoughts as well as get pleasure from seeing such an array of care experiences.”

To book free tickets for the Portrait of Care event go to

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