Derry people ‘Stripped Bare’ for charity Exhibition in memory of Emmette Dillon

Stripped Bare, a charity project aimed at raising awareness for mental health, will be having an open exhibition on Thursday, August 11 in aid of Foyle Search and Rescue.

By Daire Ní Chanáin
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 9:38 am

The project is run my Tommy White and Emer McLaughlin in memory of Emmette Dillon, the driving force behind the LegenDerry Naked Charity Calendars, where local people stripped down for a calendar in aid of cancer research. Emmette died by suicide last year so make-up artist Emer and Emmette’s good friend Tommy, a photographer, teamed up to create a fundraiser that would stem from Emmette’s work while also raising awareness of mental health issues.

Emer said: I didn’t know Emmette personally but a friend put me in touch with Tommy in January and we met for a coffee and a chat about what he had in mind to remember his friend and continue his legacy. Eight months later and a lot of hard work, we have 30 beautiful photographs and we’re nearly ready for the exhibition.

Emmette Dillon, left, who started the LegenDerry Naked Calendar and, right, some photographs which will feature in the Stripped Bare Exhibition in the Guildhall on Thursday, August 11. Emmette died by suicide last year and this exhibition has been set up to remember Emmette while raising money for Foyle Search and Rescue.

“The first day of shooting, we had about seven or eight people so Shipquay House gave us the space for free, which was a lifesaver. After that, people heard about the project or saw it online and so many people got in touch to say they would like to be involved. Tommy has a home studio so I would do the makeup, if a person wanted it, and we would sit for a tea or coffee and a chat for about half an hour. People would be really nervous when they came in and then they would open up and tell us their personal stories and their reasons for taking part and it was just beautiful. The process was amazing and sad at times too but it just showed that there was a need for more awareness and funding for mental health services.

“I think it’s important to stress that the pictures are all suggestive. You don’t actually see anything and the pictures are all so beautiful. We also asked everyone involved to write down what mental health means to them or their reason for taking part. I understand not everyone is ready, but some people have really opened up. Everyone has their own reasons, some people took part because they know someone with poor mental health or have lost someone to suicide. Taking a photograph isn’t so bad but digging deep and telling the world how you feel is very difficult.

This event is open to the public, as there’s no point in having conversations about mental health without giving awareness of the charities that can help. Aware NI, Arc Fitness, Foyle Search and Rescue, Men’s Action Network, First Housing and Foyle Haven will all be in attendance. We’ve tried to invite charities that would have been relevant to Emmette and his situation. The Mayor, Councillor Sandra Duffy, has been brilliant, providing the space in the Guildhall and giving her support. She’ll say a few words on the night, as well as Mark H Durkan, the Mental Health Advocate for the SDLP. We have tea and coffee sponsored from Spar in Ballymagroarty and Doherty’s will send buns.

“It’s a free event with open admission. The fundraising on the night is for Foyle Search and Rescue. It’ll be a great night so everyone is welcome to come and see the project and get talking about mental health.”

Emmette Dillon at an event in 2014, the year he started the LegenDerry Naked Calendar. DER4714MC029

More information on the project can be found on Instagram at @StrippedBare101 or at www.facebook.com/strippedbare101.

*Anyone in distress in NI can contact Lifeline 24/7 helpline can be contacted for free on 0808 808 8000 in confidence; The Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 02871 265511 or Freephone 116 123 in confidence; Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 for any issue or by visiting www.childline.org.uk in confidence.

Anyone in distress in RoI can contact Pieta House free on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444; TEXT Crisis Textline Ireland on 50808 - a free 24/7 text service; Ring Samaritans 24/7 on freephone number 116-123.

One of the pictures from the Stripped Bare exhibit which will be on display in the Guildhall on Thursday, August 11 at 7pm-9pm.
Stripped Bare is a photo exhibition of suggestive pictures featuring local people who have been affected by mental health issues in some way or another. The photographs will be on display in the Guildhall on Thursday, August 11 7pm-9pm along with each contributor's reason for taking part.
Stripped Bare will be shown in the Guildhall and features local people in suggestive poses to raise money for Foyle Search and Rescue. The idea stemmed from the LegenDerry Naked Calendars, which were created by Emmette Dillon, who died by suicide last year.