Heather Rattray

Heather Rattray is a queer photographer born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ryerson University School of Image Arts. Her work is primarily lens-based, and her art involves themes of identity, childhood, self-exploration and introspection. She was awarded Ryerson University Library’s First Edition Photobook Book Award in 2018 for her work entitled Unremarkable, and won an Honourable Mention for the Burtynsky Grant in 2019. She has been involved in numerous group exhibitions and held her first solo exhibition, The Virginity Project, in 2017.

98 Ways To Say ‘Very Good’.

When I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed medication. In many ways, this diagnosis altered the course of my life: I had already failed one grade and was failing another, I was loud and acted out in class, I had anxiety and depression; I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong or how I could fix it. My entire personally shifted and changed after the medication. I became more calm, my anxiety and depression improved, I began to succeed in school. I graduated high school, and I started university; I’m living on my own now. 11 years later and I am still taking a daily stimulant. I have put a lot of thought into what it means to be reliant on something that is primarily for a childhood disorder, what it would mean for me to give up this crutch in the future.

This project is about finally giving myself the time and space to research and interpret what has become my identity for so many years. Laid into the framework of an old ADHD text, I try and gather my thoughts in an attempt to identify why I feel so much fear for the future. Through a process of understanding, of visiting and revisiting old medical records, family photos, notes and diary entries, in combination with new imagery, I wish to come to a conclusion about how I feel. I am attempting to express that ADHD is so much more than just concentration, that it effects my entire life; how I form and maintain relationships, how I act and present to the world, how I perceive myself and my identity.

To view more of Heather Rattray’s work please visit her website.