Photographs taken by Juergen Teller of happy, laughing children are to go on display to raise awareness of the work done by the charity Demelza.
All the children have serious or terminal conditions and are cared for by the children’s hospice care charity.
Teller, best known for his fashion photography, was approached by Demelza to document the lives of children and families it helps.
It was an uplifting experience, Teller said. “What I found astonishing is that we walk around in the world and we don’t have patience for anything, things get on our nerves.
“But the parents there, you see them, they have so much time and patience for the children who are so complicated and difficult. They have so much patience. It felt like time was standing still and it was wonderful for me to see. It helped me too … to change gear. I felt really moved.”
Ryan Campbell, chief executive of Demelza, said there was much more to the charity’s work than providing hospice care and Teller’s images convey that better than words.
“There is more joy, laughter and fun than there is sadness,” he said. “Children are children … the children we have the privilege to work with are amazing and inspiring, and that is why we have partnered with Juergen Teller. These families want to be seen, not hidden away and pitied.”
Over the course of three months, Teller made numerous visits to the charity’s hospices in Sittingbourne and Eltham as well as the homes of children who could not travel.
“This might sound a bit weird but after a day’s work at the hospice I left with a kind of happiness,” he said.
Teller first arrived at the hospice with cameras and lights and an assistant but using them felt too intrusive, he said, so he used his phone for all the images.
“I quickly changed tack and thought it better if I was there like an uncle, or friend, and since everything today is photographed on a mobile phone that is what I used. The technical quality of mobile phones is incredible.”
The subjects include seven-year-old Archie, who has cerebral palsy and other conditions which means he cannot do anything unaided. He is unable to talk but shares his feelings through his eyes and shows his happiness with laughter.
The photographs have gone on display in the exhibition space of the London auction house Bonhams. It is a non-selling exhibition, although the aim is to encourage donations as well as raise awareness of the charity’s work.
• Demelza Kids is at Bonhams New Bond Street, London 10-16 April.