Publish date: 12 January 2024

Patients waiting for an appointment or worrying about a diagnosis will be inspired by a major new photography exhibition at the Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals to highlight the achievements of deaf people.  

Deaf Mosaic will feature 42 intimate portraits of deaf people from a wide range of backgrounds – from fashion model to athlete, TV chef to actress, coffee barista to scientist. The message is that with the right support, deaf people can do anything. 

From Monday 15th January the exhibition will be visible on the ground floor and patient waiting areas for three months to inspire visitors awaiting their appointments.  
Deaf Mosaic was created by photographer Stephen Iliffe, who is deaf himself and has attended UCLH audiology services for 35 years.  

“When I was growing up, it often felt as if I was the only deaf person in the world,” says Stephen. “The audiology staff were great but after my appointment I’d go straight back into the outside world with all its prejudices and barriers. I didn’t have any deaf adult role models for what I might aspire to when I grew up.” 

“I want today’s generation of deaf children and adults to have earlier access to positive role models – such as the architect Martin Glover or scientist Tamara Denner and to feel that they too have the right to their own dreams and to be supported to achieve those.”   

Another of the Deaf Mosaic portraits is the TV actress and best-selling author Samantha Baines. “At the age of 29, it was a total shock when the audiologist told me I had a hearing loss,” says Samantha. “I worried that both my career and my life as I knew it was over. I had never met anyone in my age group who was deaf and I felt very alone”.  

“Walking out of that first hearing test, it would have been a massive boost to see something like Deaf Mosaic in the waiting rooms. I’d have seen all these vibrant, multi-faceted deaf people, breaking down barriers and achieving amazing things. It would have meant so much to see role models – such as Nadia Nadarajah, a successful actress, or Dame Evelyn Glennie now a world-famous musician – and to see those role models straight away, rather than seek them out myself years later.” 

“Deaf Mosaic has exhibited before in art galleries,” adds Stephen. “But this is my first time inside an audiology clinic. It’s fantastic that UCLH saw how this would add value to their patients’ experiences. They want people not only to get a service here, but to come away feeling uplifted too.”    

“The right support at the right time can make such a difference to the lives of Deaf/deaf people and their families. Stephen’s photographs are truly inspirational,” says UCLH Head of Auditory Implants Wanda Aleksy.   

Kryssie Tyrtania, from the UCLH Arts and Heritage team said: “This exhibition is supported by the UCLH Arts and Heritage team, who are committed to providing a welcoming, uplifting environment for patients, visitors and staff using a varied and stimulating arts and heritage programme. With help from our funders including UCLH Charity and the Friends of UCLH, UCLH Arts and Heritage has developed into a multi-award-winning programme to deliver improved patient and staff outcomes through the arts. There is a substantial body of evidence that shows arts in hospitals can positively influence the health and wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff.”