Best Years Of Our Lives by Jude Wacks

Following last month’s success at LCC Degree Shows 2018, The Truman Brewery in east London as part of Free Range 2018, will be hosting Jude Wacks’ much talked about Best Days Of Your Life photography exhibition which explores a group of 18 to 20 year-olds who have all self-harmed throughout their secondary school careers

In recent years the UK has faced an alarming increase in teenage mental health issues. Across the country and affecting all socio-economic demographics, gender and ethnicities, children are being hospitalised on a worrying daily basis through self-harm.

Stress, pressure, bullying and social media have been identified as factors in this, yet on the surface children appear to be coping and maintaining a brave face. Deep down however, they hide their true feelings, emotional pain and humiliation, with worrying consequences as they seek a “way out” of their situation.

Since October 2017, Londoner, Jude Wacks – herself a mother of teenage daughters – has been exploring the theme of youth self harm in a powerful set of photos which helps to expose the issue, the children who try to cover up their actions and what are the consequences of ignoring this invisible illness.

For Best Days Of Your Life, Wacks has gathered a diverse group of sixth formers and school leavers who have one thing in common: they have self-harmed themselves throughout their secondary school education.

The reasons, like these individuals are diverse – a cry for help, a release from inner pain or to get attention through fear of not being loved or wanted.

“At first glance they seem to be an average looking group of late teens,” Wacks said. “But when you start capturing them on film and talking to them, you can see the pain that lingers inside of them. Sometimes it is obvious, often there are subtle nuances in their appearance and outlook that provide an indication as to how they feel”.

“We can never be sure at first glance how far down the path they’ve gone to self-harming,” Wacks added.  “It’s only by talking and listening that we can try to figure out what issues these teens may face”.

Through Best Days Of Your Life, Wacks aims to question the wider mental health balance of exposure and awareness. “I’m trying to examine the intimate choice of covering-up or revealing the invisible pain these teenagers have,” Wacks said. “Through this project I am questioning the observers’ choice of awareness level and how they can interpret what is shown before them. Whether it is our own children or other people’s, how do we relate to, confront and address the issue?”


Best Days Of Your Life

The Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, E1 6QR from

22st June 2018 – 25th June 2018.

Free and open to all