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Folk exhibition to showcase the real people of Cheltenham

Some of the portraits highlighting the real people of Cheltenham

The real people of Cheltenham are the stars of a new exhibition that aims to challenge the perception the town being rich and middle class.

Six striking five-metre tall portrait photographs have been installed at the Brewery Quarter to mark the start of Cheltenham Folk exhibition.

They are just a small sample of 70 images produced by British creative director Marksteen Adamson that show Cheltonians from all ages and walks of life.

The portraits, which provide a unique photographic study celebrating the diversity of people in Cheltenham, will go on show at Chapel Arts in the town from February 27 to March 17.

The show will also highlight how Adamson established a photographic programme to help boost youngsters' self-esteem through photography.

Participants in the programme, called the Peel Project, have been encouraged to put down their phone, ask questions about others and put together a poem and then take a photo to capture their character.

Adamson said: "The Peel Project is about teaching people how to value the truth about themselves.

"We've challenged individuals to accept the essence and beauty of who they are - just like my Cheltenham Folk portraits have done.

"I'm looking forward to getting people's reactions to my collection of images - they quite often spark a strong emotional reaction.

"The Peel Project was set up to tackle growing mental health issues among young people through an exploration of self-identity.

"Social media, self-expression and self-identity present growing problems for young people, and there is growing evidence that this pressure is contributing more and more to mental health issues.

"Trying to establish a true identity, whilst finding themselves within a 'selfie' culture of carefully curated Facebook and Instagram lives, has never been harder and the Peel Project is attempting to tackle this."

Entry to the exhibition is free of charge. The gallery will be running Peel poetry and photography workshops over the course of the exhibition.

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