Humanity Always

“Humanity Always” is a universal and heartfelt message that will probably always be pertinent. In 2020, however, after the summer bushfire season and the challenges brought by Covid-19, the message could not be more relevant. In November 2020, the words “Humanity Always” were installed above the entrance to Mental.

BACKGROUND STORY FROM JESSICA: I travelled to Perth in the early 2000s when I was working for Oxfam Australia. I had some spare time before a work meeting, so I took myself on a meandering walk until I eventually found myself in among an anti-war protest. It wasn’t a huge gathering, but I noticed an older gentleman and his wife standing away from the crowd in a marbled sheltered area. The gentleman was wearing a homemade ‘bib’ bearing the words “humanity always”, and I was really struck by this.

I had always vowed to myself that I would never take photographs of strangers as (for me) it feels like a violation of their privacy. Instinctively, however, I knew I had to overturn this vow – and fast. I had to ask the gentleman and his wife permission to take their photograph (pictured above). I was so chuffed when they politely agreed, and so I quickly took just one shot of them. I didn’t realise that it would soon become my most treasured photograph. The simplicity of its message – “humanity always” – continues to strike at my heart. The couple’s clearly gentle and unassuming disposition only deepens this feeling.