About

Portraits of Recovery (PORe) is a pioneering visual arts charity based in Manchester, inspiring and supporting people affected by and in recovery from substance use (Recoverists).

We are the UK’s only contemporary visual arts organisation working within this field. By working collaboratively with leading contemporary artists, people in recovery, and communities in recovery, we share the human face of the recovery experience – breaking down barriers and promoting inclusion. Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction is a health, social and cultural issue. 

Director Mark Prest’s own lived experience and resilience led him to found Portraits of Recovery in 2011; a space that opens up new conversations about addiction and recovery through the lens of contemporary art. We engage those in recovery by empowering them as artists and creators, growing their participation in culture, demystifying the world of contemporary art and giving a powerful voice to an often-marginalised community. 

Our key stakeholders, people in recovery from substance use, engage with and create high quality inspirational art, as a critical part of their recovery journey. Our work is inclusive, activist and process-based. Through culture we build ambition by empowering a stigmatised community to enable systemic change.  

We envision a changed society. One in which those in recovery from substance use are, through the transformational power of the arts and culture, empowered to creatively shape the world around them.  

The philosophy that guides our work is Recoverism; an inclusive social movement borne out of the story of both PORe and Manchester itself - the birthplace of social movements like Trade Unionism, Suffrage, and the Cooperative Society. Our work reimagines ways in which people and communities affected by substance use and in recovery are represented and understood. Recoverism is a form of cultural activism: encouraging us to change the world and our place within it through collaboration and mutual support, between those in recovery, artists, and wider society.   

Artist Carol McNicoll with Recoverists from The Repair Centre, 2022
Recoverists from The Repair Centre in the workshop at Boiler House, 2022

Who We Are: The Team

Mark Prest, Founding Director 

Mark Prest founded Portraits of Recovery in 2011 as a response to his professional background in the arts and his own lived experience of recovery from alcoholism. He says of himself “I’m a curator, man in recovery, recovery activist and the proud owner of a diva Jack Russell called Izzy”. 

Sinéad Nunes, Digital Marketing Coordinator  

Sinéad is an arts marketing professional with a keen interest in accessibility and diversifying audiences, and joined Portraits of Recovery in February 2022. Sinéad has worked with organisations across the North West, including Heart of Glass, Abandon Normal Devices, Liverpool Biennial, FACT, Tate Liverpool, Storyhouse and The Reader Organisation. She is also a current Trustee at Homotopia. 

Claire Armitage, Business Support Officer 

Claire is an administration and marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. She is also an exhibited photographer with a keen interest in people and in the visual arts. Claire works closely with our groups, recruiting participants and supporting workshops, as well as taking many of the photographs you see on our website and social media. 

Board of Trustees

Bill Griffiths (Chair), now retired from full time work, has extensive experience in management, sales and marketing operations, and international business development and consultancy (manufacturing). He is Chairman of the Board of the Fielden Centre Association (a registered charity and limited company running Fielden Hall).

Zoe Welch joined the Board in 2015 after meeting Mark through the Arts for Health network. Zoe has worked as a drug and alcohol researcher in charities for over 20 years and is a strong believer in the power of participation in the arts to improve health and support lasting change. Zoe is currently Head of Research at Change, Grow, Live. 

Jayne Gosnall is in Recovery and has a long relationship with Portraits of Recovery from being a participant, volunteer and maker. She is passionate about PORe's commitment to visible recovery and is a proud Recoverist. 

Stephen Whittle is a museum professional and has managed several museums and galleries in the North-West over the last 30 years. Stephen currently works at The Atkinson in Southport where he enjoys presenting a public programme and working with a wide variety of artists, curators and audiences. 

Join the Team

We are currently recruiting for a Digital Marketing Coordinator. Find out more and apply by Sunday 17th July 2022.

How We Work 

Our internationally renowned work includes curated exhibitions and conferences, unique workshop programmes developed and delivered directly with those in recovery, and award-winning visual arts projects and commissions in collaboration with leading visual and performance artists such as Sutapa Biswas, Melanie Manchot, David Hoyle and Cristina Nunez.

Significantly, we exist to educate the public about substance use and recovery through positive forms of visual representation and informed storying. 

We are at the forefront of pioneering new academic discussion around art, substance use and recovery, presenting at the World Health Congress Europe (Manchester) in 2019, which included a collaboratively delivered conference paper Shame and Guilt: Academics, Crackheads, Smackheads and Drunks by PORe Director Mark Prest, Professor Amanda Ravetz (MMU) and recovery activist Michaela Jones (SRC). A recently published paper by Mark Prest, Professor Ali Roy (UCLan) and Professor Amanda Ravetz (MMU) Unsettling Narrative(s): Film Making as an Anthropological Lens on an Artist-Led Project Exploring LGBT+ Recovery from Substance Use explored the film, My Recoverist Family (2018). 

Significant collaborations with Dr Clive Parkinson, former director of Arts for Health (MMU), have been instrumental in developing the ideology of Recoverism and nationally positioning PORe within the context of Arts & Health agendas. This is informed by the Recoverist Manifesto.