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  • RED GALLERY 1-3 Rivington Street London, England, EC2A 3DT United Kingdom (map)

Making Faces is an exhibition of photographs that transform everyday objects by revealing a hidden world of human expressions that is all around us. The main part of the exhibition is a series of photographs taken by Rob O'Brien. At the age of 30, Rob tragically took his own life after suffering many years of depression.

Despite being well-loved and hugely popular with a wide circle of friends, Rob's illness led him to the world that he felt he could no longer live in. Suicide is the single biggest cause of death in young men in the UK, and the media response to recent high-profile suicides underlines how little society understands mental illness. We struggle to make sense of how someone that seemingly has everything to live for can become so isolated through depression that life becomes too much for them.

The photos in this exhibition raise questions about the face people choose to show to the world, and what lies behind it. In a culture where not being happy is seen as the failure and where men are not supposed to talk about their feelings, it can be hard to know where to go for help.

Suicide leaves behind a group of people struggling to come to terms with a loss. Rob’s friends and family, many of whom were strangers to each other, have come together to organize this exhibition to raise awareness of and engagement with mental health issues. They want to dismantle the taboo of depression in a way which honors Rob; through his creativity, his individual way of looking at the world and his sense of fun. Alongside Rob's photographs, the exhibition features others taken since his death by those that loved him as they seek out ' his faces ' as a way of connecting with him.

All proceeds from the exhibition will go to the Maytree Trust, a local charity who have helped countless people in times of crisis and at risk of suicide (


Rob O’Brien was a well-known local boy who had worked for various pubs around Camden and Islington. From 2008 he worked at Coconut Nursery in Stoke Newington where he was a favorite amongst the children, parents and staff alike. He had an artistic flair and a love of silly activities, which the children adored. “Robsy’ flourished at the nursery and found an outlet for his creative flair by introducing the children to art in the style of Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, and others. 

Insomnia and anxiety were terrible symptoms of Rob’s illness. He was prescribed medication for his depression but felt that it changed his personality, and eventually decided to stop taking it. He took his own life in March 2011. 


In addition to the exhibition, Making Faces has grown into a project involving the Coconut Nursery. On Thurs 8th March - 10 children from the pre-school unit will visit the gallery to have a look at the photographs and then have their own Making Faces art and craft activity in the gallery.


Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 18:00 to Sunday, March 11, 2012 - 17:00