Incredible Humans

This agoraphobic traveller now has a photo exhibit in NY, thanks to Google Street View

Meet the artist who photographed the world... without leaving home.

What is Agoraphobia?

For those who have never heard of Agoraphobia before, it is an anxiety disorder in which you have a constant fear of busy, public areas and see the environment around you to be unsafe outside of the home.

The Agoraphobic Traveller

Jacqui Kenny is one of the thousands of people around the world who experiences agoraphobia. The thought of leaving the house is enough to make her feel extremely stressed, resulting in frequent panic attacks. It makes everyday activities like work and grocery shopping very difficult, often impossible to do. Her home is her safe haven, and Google Street View eventually became the catalyst for an idea that allowed her to move beyond her fears and find another way of seeing the world.

I found a surprising and unique refuge in the creative possibilities of Google Street View. I began clicking through Google Maps to navigate to faraway countries like Mongolia, Senegal, and Chile.

Deeply intrigued by the parallel universe of street view, Jacqui captured everything from remote towns to dusty landscapes, architectural landmarks, and anonymous people who remain unknown to the world. These moments that are often overlooked by the majority often call out to her, as she began to find the frames that spoke to her agoraphobia.

So far, she has taken over 27,000 screenshots from around the world. She says it can take anywhere from a few days to a week to find a good screenshot. But despite her fears, her photos evoke the remoteness that she herself longs for. Virtual travel through Google has given her the ability to go to places that she never could otherwise, helping her find a voice.

Now, she has amassed 50,000 followers on Instagram, driving awareness of her mental illness with her first solo gallery, The Agoraphobic Traveller, in Manhattan. She knows the road is long but is keen to develop her photography further.

Sorry for been so quiet on Instagram lately but I have been working on something really exciting. I’m fortunate enough to be showing some of my work in NYC in a couple of weeks and I would love for those of you who live there, or who are visiting, to come along and join me on the evening of the 19th of September, for what I hope will be a really fun night. More information coming soon but in the meantime if you would like an invite, please message me your email. Travelling to New York is going to be a significant challenge for me and I’m incredibly nervous but I can’t think of a better reason to go for it. For those that don't know, I live with agoraphobia and venturing far from home is extremely difficult for me, with flying being my biggest fear. I’m really hoping that it will go well and this could be the first of many, let’s see! Also, just wanted to say a huge thank you to the amazing and talented designers @farrowlondon and my dear friend @iamjokelly who is going to be waiting for me when I get off the plane in NYC, prepared and ready to welcome me in whatever state I arrive in! #dreamscancometrue #outthefrontdoor Concept and curation Jacqui Kenny, Imagery copyright Google.

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Also related: Travel helped me overcome depression and anxiety and it can do the same for you 

All this month of six-two, we’re talking everything mental health. Have you got a story you’d like to share that allowed you to overcome a personal challenge? Share you stories with us here and help make a difference.