End of Year Update #BeforeTheyWereFallen

Before They Were Fallen  is a project dealing  with remembrance. Myself and Katy Regan use the power of photography and testimony together, to link memory, the passing of time and loss to create a body of work which pays tribute to  the British soldiers who gave their lives in the Afghanistan conflict.

This blog is dedicated to giving news of  the exposure the work has been receiving, which with the help of our really excellent public relation guru  Helen Nesbitt has been impressive. Thankyou @helennesbitt.

Here are some of the highlights :

Press and Publicity

16/09/2015 Phill Coombes BBC

This post leads to a sharp spike of visits ( 5000 a day) to my site louisquail.com, whilst on the main page ; 200 hundred shares on the National Aboretum blog with many overwhelmingly positive comments and interest in the story from Four important news organisations including Woman’s Own, Saturday Telegraph, the Sun Newspaper and Mirror Online .

 

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British Forces Broadcasting Service  also carry out a radio interview and begin negotiations over a short film Nicky Smith’s (@producernicky)  interview can be downloaded here.

 31/10/2015 Publication

Guardian Weekend publishes as scheduled, running the project over seven pages (which is why the other magazines are not able to ( exclusivity issues) ; the project is shared 2815 times on Facebook; Candis Magazine agree to scheduled to run the story in the February issue.

Touring show – 18/09/2015, Four Corners Gallery – 05/11/2015 Oriel Colwyn.

The exhibition has been well received at both venues. In Wales we received  local coverage from the North Wales Pioneer and  impressively a visit from ITV Wales with a prime time news slot on the 05/11/2015 which is also hosted on the main ITV web site .There have also been  many supportive and warm comments.

Helena Tym told us in her interview, “For me, Cyrus lives until the last person who says his name, dies. …I want people to know that our soldiers are not just machines who go out there for killing, that they’re human beings; who had family who loved them very much”.

So keeping the memories alive is hugely important and knowing the work has been so well received is  also very rewarding. I will leave you with this spontaneous tweet from respected photographer Abbi Trayler-Smith. Its  very welcome  and representative of the warmth of feeling the work has generated.

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With the intention to get the work out into the community The show is due to open in Scotland at Fife FotoSpace Gallery in Glenrothes, Scotland on the 18/01/2015 ( until 25/02/2106) and I will be giving a talk about the work on the 12/01/2016 at Napier University  please visit if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lest We Forget

One last post for Remembrance Sunday (and Remembrance day) to share the ‘Before They Were Fallen’ project in honour of all the families who took part. Thank you for sharing your stories of courage, strength and sadness and for everyone’s support during the making, publishing  and exhibiting.

In October 2014, British troops finally withdrew from Afghanistan.
453 soldiers lost their lives during the thirteen-year campaign and over that time we, as a nation, became used to the faces of the fallen flashing up on our screens and in our newspapers; images of their coffins being carried from planes and through towns lined with mourners. For the vast majority of us, those faces will now have faded in our consciousness, but for the families and friends of those Fallen, there is no fading and no forgetting.

The work shown here, funded by the Arts Council and published in the Guardian Weekend , with interviews by Katy Regan represents a body of work produced as an exhibition and Touring show, see below for dates .

TONI O’DONNELL is the widow of Warrant Officer Class 2 Gary 'Gaz' O'Donnell GM & Bar from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who was killed on Wednesday 10 September 2008, in Helmand province. He was 40. Before: “Photograph of Gary and myself taken at the christening of our eldest child, Aidan. A very happy day full of friends, family and love, taken on 26th November 2000 at Kineton Army Barrracks in Warwickshire.” After: Recreated At home in Warwickshire, 15/04/2015. To make a donation please go to www.felixfund.org.uk

TONI O’DONNELL is the widow of Warrant Officer Class 2 Gary ‘Gaz’ O’Donnell GM & Bar from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who was killed on Wednesday 10 September 2008, in Helmand province. He was 40.
Before: “Photograph of Gary and myself taken at the christening of our eldest child, Aidan. A very happy day full of friends, family and love, taken on 26th November 2000 at Kineton Army Barrracks in Warwickshire.”
After: Recreated At home in Warwickshire, 15/04/2015.
To make a donation please go to http://www.felixfund.org.uk

“A few weeks after Gary’s body came back, I got his things in a box. That was really tough, because it smelt of him, it was him. He used to send for these ‘Aussie bum pants’ from Australia which were bright colours – typical of Gary because he was such an extrovert and that was very emotional because it was so Gary, you know, it was so him.

HELENA TYM AND ROBIN THATCHER from Caversham, Berkshire, are the parents of Rifleman Cyrus Thatcher serving in 2nd Battalion The Rifles who was killed on June 2nd, 2009, in an explosion whilst on patrol in Helmand province. He was 19. PHOTO CAPTION Before: (Robin) “That smile of yours might work for your mum”: Prom Night, May 2006; Helena, Robin and Cyrus at home in Reading. After: At home in Reading, 16/07/2015 To make a donation to SSAFA Bereaved Family Support Group please go to www.ssafa.org.uk

HELENA TYM AND ROBIN THATCHER from Caversham, Berkshire, are the parents of Rifleman Cyrus Thatcher serving in 2nd Battalion The Rifles who was killed on June 2nd, 2009, in an explosion whilst on patrol in Helmand province. He was 19.
PHOTO CAPTION
Before: (Robin) “That smile of yours might work for your mum”: Prom Night, May 2006; Helena, Robin and Cyrus at home in Reading.
After: At home in Reading, 16/07/2015
To make a donation to SSAFA Bereaved Family Support Group please go to http://www.ssafa.org.uk

”We haven’t taken many photographs since Cyrus was killed, because all we see, when we look at them, is the one face that isn’t there. That’s why, when we were approached about this project, we wanted to do it, because it conveyed exactly how we feel. There is this space all the time, and I feel it very physically, so to be able to show it in a photograph is really important.”

ROSEMARY DAY from Comber, Northern Ireland, lost her daughter, Corporal Channing Day, serving in 3 Medical Regiment, when she was killed on patrol in Helmand, on October 24th 2012 Before: ”Our last mummy Channing cuddles before leaving for Afghan” Rosemary and Channing at home in Comber, Northern Ireland, 2012. After: Recreated in the same location 01/09/2015 To make a donation please go to www.combatstress.org.uk

ROSEMARY DAY from Comber, Northern Ireland, lost her daughter, Corporal Channing Day, serving in 3 Medical Regiment, when she was killed on patrol in Helmand, on October 24th 2012
Before: ”Our last mummy Channing cuddles before leaving for Afghan” Rosemary and Channing at home in Comber, Northern Ireland, 2012.
After: Recreated in the same location 01/09/2015
To make a donation please go to http://www.combatstress.org.uk

“I am sitting at home maybe eating my dinner and my daughter is under fire and you cant process that in your head that this wee girl that you brought up and protected all those years is out there fighting… in a compound under fire from the Taliban”

MARTIN HARRISON from Watford, Hertfordshire lost his son, Corporal Chris Harrison, 26, serving in 40 Commando, the Royal Marines when he was killed in an explosion in Sangin, on May 9th 2010. PHOTO CAPTION Before: “Chris and Dad, Christmas 1999 ‘The Matrix look’ present“ After: Recreated at home in Watford, 07/08/2015 To make a donation to The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF) please go to www.rmctf.org.uk

MARTIN HARRISON from Watford, Hertfordshire lost his son, Corporal Chris Harrison, 26, serving in 40 Commando, the Royal Marines when he was killed in an explosion in Sangin, on May 9th 2010.
PHOTO CAPTION
Before: “Chris and Dad, Christmas 1999 ‘The Matrix look’ present“
After: Recreated at home in Watford, 07/08/2015
To make a donation to The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF) please go to http://www.rmctf.org.uk

“He loved the film The Matrix and wanted a full-length leather coat but we couldn’t quite stretch to that- so we got him this! It used to make us laugh that he would walk around in it virtually all day long.”

CORBIN MACKIN from Plymouth lost his brother, Travis Mackin, 22, who was serving in 45 Commando, the Royal Marines, when he was killed in an explosion on January 11th 2009 in the Kajaki area of Afghanistan. At the time of Travis’ death, Corbin was also serving in 1st Battalion the rifles and deployed in the same operation in Helmand. 1. Before: Corbin and Travis photographed in Cyprus After: Recreated in Blackpool Sands, Devon, 30/07/15. To make a donation please go to www.helpforheroes.org.uk

CORBIN MACKIN from Plymouth lost his brother, Travis Mackin, 22, who was serving in 45 Commando, the Royal Marines, when he was killed in an explosion on January 11th 2009 in the Kajaki area of Afghanistan. At the time of Travis’ death, Corbin was also serving in 1st Battalion the rifles and deployed in the same operation in Helmand.
1. Before: Corbin and Travis photographed in Cyprus
After: Recreated in Blackpool Sands, Devon, 30/07/15.
To make a donation please go to http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk

“The battle doesn’t end when you get back from Afghanistan. People can never understand what you’ve been through.”

NIKKI SCOTT from Walpole St Andrews, Norfolk, lost her husband Corporal Lee Scott, from the 2nd Royal Tank regiment, when the vehicle he was on was blown up by an IED. He was 26. PHOTO CAPTION Before: 2nd February 2008. All Saints Church, North Wootton, King's Lynn, Norfolk. “Just Married! Amazing moment of the day that I shall cherish forever. Mr & Mrs Scott.” After: Same location, Nikki with their children, Kai and Brooke make a donation please go to www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

NIKKI SCOTT from Walpole St Andrews, Norfolk, lost her husband Corporal Lee Scott, from the 2nd Royal Tank regiment, when the vehicle he was on was blown up by an IED. He was 26.
PHOTO CAPTION
Before: 2nd February 2008. All Saints Church, North Wootton, King’s Lynn, Norfolk. “Just Married! Amazing moment of the day that I shall cherish forever. Mr & Mrs Scott.”
After: Same location, Nikki with their children, Kai and Brooke
make a donation please go to http://www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

“The strangest thing was being told this horrendous thing had happened, that he wouldn’t be coming home and yet, there was no evidence of Lee: no coffee cup from the morning, no toothbrush – it was like he was still on tour.”

ANNE LINLEY from Bournville, West Midlands, lost her son, Sergeant Brett Linley GM when he was killed whilst trying to deactivate a bomb in Afghanistan on July 17th 2010. Sergeant Linley from the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps. He was 29. PHOTO CAPTIONS Delete as appropriate: Picture 1 Before:, “Boxing day walk with George, (husband) Brett and myself.” Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, circa 1994. After: Same location 06/02/2015 To make a donation please go to www.felixfund.org.uk

ANNE LINLEY from Bournville, West Midlands, lost her son, Sergeant Brett Linley GM when he was killed whilst trying to deactivate a bomb in Afghanistan on July 17th 2010. Sergeant Linley from the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps. He was 29.
PHOTO CAPTIONS
Delete as appropriate:
Picture 1
Before:, “Boxing day walk with George, (husband) Brett and myself.” Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, circa 1994.
After: Same location 06/02/2015
To make a donation please go to http://www.felixfund.org.uk

“Brett was into anything if it was alive; he absolutely loved wildlife. I’ve never seen anybody pick up a bee and thank it for doing its work before.”

RACHEL MURPHY from Bristol, is the widow of Lance Corporal John Murphy who served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and after 22 years in the military, took his own life in January 2007, leaving Rachel and their two children; Emily and Steven, who were aged 2 and 3 at the time. Before: “The last photo of all of us in happier times” Rachel, John and their children, Emily and Steven at home in Bristol, November 2006. After: At home in Bristol. 10/5/15 To make a donation please go to www.combatstress.org.uk and www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

RACHEL MURPHY from Bristol, is the widow of  Lance Corporal John Murphy who served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and after 22 years in the military, took his own life in January 2007, leaving Rachel and their two children; Emily and Steven, who were aged 2 and 3 at the time.
Before: “The last photo of all of us in happier times” Rachel, John and their children, Emily and Steven at home in Bristol, November 2006.
After: At home in Bristol. 10/5/15
To make a donation please go to http://www.combatstress.org.uk and http://www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

“When John was clearly unwell, I was saying you really need to go and see someone and he was saying ‘I don’t need no head doctor, what will people think? …. From the moment you enter the army you are bred to be a fighting machine, to show huge personal courage in the face of adversity. Those are all wonderful attributes but at the same time they can also be detrimental to the human psyche because the brain isn’t wired to cope with that amount of stress. “

STEVE BARNSDALE from Tring, in Hertfordshire lost his son, Corporal David Barnsdale, serving in the 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) when he was killed by an IED on 19th October 2010. Before: “Christmas, 2004 at our home in Tring, just prior to David being transferred to be based in Germany.” After: Same location 11/02/2015 To make a donation please go to www.soldierscharity.org

STEVE BARNSDALE from Tring, in Hertfordshire lost his son, Corporal David Barnsdale, serving in the 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) when he was killed by an IED on 19th October 2010.
Before: “Christmas, 2004 at our home in Tring, just prior to David being transferred to be based in Germany.”
After: Same location 11/02/2015
To make a donation please go to http://www.soldierscharity.org

“One of the last things I said to him was, ‘a speeding fine’s come through in the post’. He was terrible for getting parking and speeding fines, never seemed to know how it worked.”

CAROLINE MUNDAY from Coleshill, Worcestershire, lost her son, Trooper James Munday, serving in the Household Cavalry Regiment when he was killed driving a jackal, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 15th October 2008. He was 21. Before: Caroline and her son James at Caroline’s parents’ house, April 2005, Coleshill, Warwickshire. After: Same location, April 2013. To make a donation to the Household Cavalry Foundation please go to www.hcavfoundation.org

CAROLINE MUNDAY from Coleshill, Worcestershire, lost her son, Trooper James Munday, serving in the Household Cavalry Regiment when he was killed driving a jackal, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 15th October 2008. He was 21.
Before: Caroline and her son James at Caroline’s parents’ house, April 2005, Coleshill, Warwickshire.
After: Same location, April 2013.
To make a donation to the Household Cavalry Foundation please go to http://www.hcavfoundation.org

“I was on my knees in the car park, screaming. Then this bubble just formed around me, I picked myself up and walked back inside and said to the security guard, ‘I’ve just found out that my son has been killed in Afghanistan’, I need to go back into the building.”

EMMA BETTS, from Nottingham lost her brother, Private James Prosser, a warrior infantry vehicle driver serving in 2nd battalion the Royal Welsh, when he was killed as a result of an explosion in Helmand, Afghanistan on September 27th, 2009. He was 21. Before: “Brotherly and sisterly fun playing Barbies” Caerphilly, Wales, July 1992. After: Same location 07/04/2013. To make a donation please go to www.soldierscharity.org

EMMA BETTS, from Nottingham lost her brother, Private James Prosser, a warrior infantry vehicle driver serving in 2nd battalion the Royal Welsh, when he was killed as a result of an explosion in Helmand, Afghanistan on September 27th, 2009. He was 21.
Before: “Brotherly and sisterly fun playing Barbies” Caerphilly, Wales, July 1992.
After: Same location 07/04/2013.
To make a donation please go to http://www.soldierscharity.org

“I miss my little brother: I just miss him being around. It was strange going back to that house in Caerphilly for the photo, because I hadn’t been in fifteen years and everything felt smaller and on the wall behind us are the two, white, football posts that were painted on, and that we used to play against when we were little. It made me nostalgic for that time, when life was simple… As I get older, I get sadder, I get angrier. I miss him more”

SARAH ADAMS from Cwmbran in Wales lost her son, Private James Prosser, a warrior infantry vehicle driver serving in the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh when he was killed as a result of an explosion in Helmand, Afghanistan on September 27th, 2009. He was 21. Before: Sarah and James at Ashbridge Inn, Cwmbran, April 2009 “A precious hug from James … How I wish I could have one now.” After: Same location, 4/4/15 To make a donation please go to www.soldierscharity.org

SARAH ADAMS from Cwmbran in Wales lost her son, Private James Prosser, a warrior infantry vehicle driver serving in the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh when he was killed as a result of an explosion in Helmand, Afghanistan on September 27th, 2009. He was 21.
Before: Sarah and James at Ashbridge Inn, Cwmbran, April 2009
“A precious hug from James … How I wish I could have one now.”
After: Same location, 4/4/15
To make a donation please go to http://www.soldierscharity.org

“When James was little, he liked to dress up as a super-hero. One of my most vivid memories is of James dressed as Batman, standing on a wall in the back garden. I was looking at him from the kitchen window and he was going ‘Mummy, I can fly!’ and I’m trying to say ‘no you can’t’ but then he did, and it was a trip to A&E again. There was nothing he wouldn’t attempt.”

BRENDA HALE, from Northern Ireland, is the widow of Captain Mark Hale, of 2nd Battalion the Rifles who was 42 when he was killed in an explosion whilst on patrol in Sangin on August 13th 2009. PHOTO CAPTION Before: “Me and my man, Paris, 2008” BH After: Same location 26/07/2015. To make a donation please go to www.soldierscharity.org

BRENDA HALE, from Northern Ireland, is the widow of Captain Mark Hale, of 2nd Battalion the Rifles who was 42 when he was killed in an explosion whilst on patrol in Sangin on August 13th 2009.
PHOTO CAPTION
Before: “Me and my man, Paris, 2008” BH
After: Same location 26/07/2015.
To make a donation please go to http://www.soldierscharity.org

“He told me he loved me in his third letter. I was reading it on a train to Belfast and I went ’yippee!’ and everyone on the train turned and looked and I was like ‘he loves me!’ it felt like I’d drunk a bottle of champagne – everything was just going pop.”

AMY LAWRENCE is the widow of Trooper Phillip Lawrence, originally from Birkenhead, the Wirral. Trooper Lawrence served in the Light Dragoons (based in Norfolk) and was killed on July 27th, 2009 in Helmand when the vehicle he was driving was in an explosion. He was 22. Before: “First family photo” (Amy, Phillip and Jess) January 2009, Jess three months old. AL After: Amy and Jess, recreated in Norwich, 9/04/2015. To make a donation please go to www.armywidows.org.uk and www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

AMY LAWRENCE is the widow of Trooper Phillip Lawrence, originally from Birkenhead, the Wirral. Trooper Lawrence served in the Light Dragoons (based in Norfolk) and was killed on July 27th, 2009 in Helmand when the vehicle he was driving was in an explosion. He was 22.
Before: “First family photo” (Amy, Phillip and Jess) January 2009, Jess three months old. AL
After: Amy and Jess, recreated in Norwich, 9/04/2015.
To make a donation please go to http://www.armywidows.org.uk and http://www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

“…the regiment Welfare Officer had stayed on the barracks the night before and had looked over at my house with no lights on and thought, I’ve got to break that poor girl’s heart tomorrow.”

The Exhibition

Having been exhibited at Four Corners Gallery in September The exhibition continues in Oriel Colwyn Gallery, North Wales, November 5th to December the 5th 2015 (with a special viewing arranged for Remembrance day) and FOTOPACE Gallery, fife Scotland, Monday 18th January – Saturday 27th February, 2016

Please check here for further news , and email Louis quail and Katy Regan  if you are interested in showing the work or becoming a contributor.

Synopsis Continued

Before They Were Fallen deals with remembrance. Through intimate photographs and powerful testimonies this project honours the sacrifice of the soldiers, but also that of those left behind to deal with their loss.

The central concept of the work is the recreation of a family snap. The pair of pictures; the original (before they were fallen) and the recreation, which shows a space where the soldier should be, together challenge the viewer to compare the past to the present and the reality of their absence.

This approach to the image alongside sensitive interviews of each participant by journalist and author Katy Regan, offers an alternative to traditional remembrance, remembering soldiers as individuals; somebody’s son, daughter, father, husband, brother or comrade.

A few participants were also invited to nominate several often ordinary objects that had particular resonance for them in connection to their ‘fallen’ loved ones. Using large format photography, the aim was to reveal the items afresh drawing attention to their now extraordinary significance as artefacts.

Traditional remembrance is inevitably narrow in its scope but broad in its brush; dealing as it does with the valour and courage of the fallen soldiers from several wars, and seeking to include the whole nation. Its success in creating this national platform is its weakness, in that the nature of the individual soldier and sacrifice of the families can sometimes be lost in the scale of the event.

In Before They Were Fallen, I wanted to confront the grief and sacrifice of the friends and families head on, and in doing so give them a voice and the opportunity to remember their fallen soldier in a public space, narrowing the distance between their intimate personal memories and our collective act of remembrance.

The final intention behind the work is to collate the material gathered for the project into an archive featuring the images and first person testimonies of each individual photographed. The hope was that it would be a fitting legacy to the fallen soldiers but also a manifestation of the emotional and physical impact felt by the families involved.

In creating this project I have considered the many First World War commemorations and exhibitions, each a reminder of the devastation of the Great War. I see the work as part of this tradition of documentation and reflection on war, which is essential in reducing the call to arms.

The project is dedicated to the 453 British soldiers and all those who lost their lives as a result of the war in Afghanistan; as well as the families and loved ones they left behind.

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China’s One Child Policy is a Two child policy!

Congratulations to China on this momentous day; or dare I say it  ‘great leap forward’. China has announced that the one child policy is now a two child policy; so says the BBC. I thought It would be a nice occasion to publish some of the pictures from a story done a few years ago made with writer Katy Regan where we explored the policy pretty much coming to the conclusion that things would need to change; read more here.

Before They Were Fallen, The Exhibition is here.

Please see below for the Press Release:

A new exhibition exploring loss and remembrance through a singular take on simple family photographs, and powerful personal testimonies

Opening 14 September 2015 at Four Corners Gallery,  Before They Were Fallen deals with remembrance. Louis Quail uses photographic portraits and testimony to link memory, the passing of time and loss to create a body of work which pays tribute to the fallen soldiers of Afghanistan.

The central concept of the work is the recreation of a family snap. The pair of pictures, the original, and the recreation – which shows a space where the soldier should be -together challenge the viewer to compare the past, before the soldier was fallen, to the present and the reality of their absence.

toni

Toni O’ Donnell with her husband Warrant Officer Class 2 Gary ‘Gaz’ O’Donnell GM, from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, Gary was killed disposing a bomb on Wednesday 10 September 2008. Picture right was taken April 2015.

Quail’s compelling approach to the image, alongside sensitive interviews by author Katy Regan, tell the stories of the families and friends of the fallen – those left behind.

In the work, Quail uses his perspective as an artist to add to and question traditions of remembrance; offering an alternate view. The exhibition captures an intimate experience of commemoration; and the privilege of understanding the soldiers as individuals through the rich and personal memories of surviving friends and families. It demonstrates the sacrifice of the soldiers more fully by understanding the impact on those left behind.

Quail first used the technique of recreating a picture of a fallen solider on an editorial assignment in Libya. He developed the idea as an original way of exploring the aftermath for loved ones when a life is lost in conflict. Speaking about his work on the project alongside writer Katy Regan, Quail explained, “Once we had encountered the raw devastation of the participants we both realised there was a huge responsibility here to do our very best to pay tribute to the fallen and reveal the sacrifice also of the families involved.”

The artist has experimented with other storytelling approaches. In addition to family photography, the artist pictures significant objects. Quail invited participants to nominate a few treasured possessions that have particular significance to them in connection to their ‘fallen’ loved ones. Using large format photography and focusing on the material physicality of these often ordinary objects, he has revealed the items afresh showing their now extraordinary significance as artefacts.

toni69Jul_09_2015

Gary O Donnell’s Beret, “His Work meant Everything to him, when I look at these ( his beret and identity tags) I think of the word Hero”, Toni O” Donnell

Equally within the project Quail has explored multimedia; always anchored by the desire to give space to the personal stories. His short film and sound piece add a different perspective and dimension to the work.

Quail and Regan plan to complete the work by collating the material they have gathered for the project into an archive featuring images and first person testimonies of each individual photographed, potentially in a book format. They hope it will be a fitting legacy of the emotional and physical impact felt by the families involved.

In creating the project, Quail considered the many First World War commemorations and exhibitions, each a reminder of the devastation of the Great War. He sees the work as part of this tradition of documentation and reflection on war, which is essential in reducing the call to arms.

This project is dedicated to the 453 British soldiers and all those who lost their lives as a result of the war in Afghanistan; as well as the families and loved ones they left behind.

 Notes To Editors

The exhibition, created through the generous funding of the Arts Council England, opens in Four Corners Gallery, Bethnal Green London and continues in locations around the country.

Quail and Regan received support from a number of charities throughout their research for this project. Visit their websites to find out more or donate: http://www.soldierscharity.org, http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk, http://www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

For more information contact Louis Quail on mail@louisquail.com or Katy Regan Katy.regan1@virginmedia.com

Before They Were Fallen at Four Corners Gallery, 121 Roman Road London E2 0QN

Please Email for an invitation to the Private view.

Gallery opens 11am-6pm Monday 14th to Saturday 26th September. Free entry.

Bethnal Green tube

The exhibition continues in Oriel Colwyn Gallery, North Wales, November 5th to December the 5th 2015 (with a special viewing arranged for Remembrance day) and FOTOPACE Gallery, fife Scotland, Monday 18th January – Saturday 27th February, 2016

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Katy Regan

Katy Regan is a journalist and novelist. After working as Features Writer and Commissioning Editor for Marie Claire for five years, she left to go freelance and is a regular contributor to many national magazines and newspapers including Psychologies, The Times, Good Housekeeping, Stella magazine, Red and Marie Claire. She is also the author of four novels all published by Harper Collins; the latest being The Story of You. Her author website is http://www.katyregan.com. Follow Katy on twitter @katyreganwrites

Louis Quail

A successful editorial and commercial photographer for many years, working for some of the UKs best know brands: e.g. Sunday Times; Telegraph Magazine; Marie Claire etc Louis has recently switched his focus towards exhibiting his work. Recent successes, such as being selected for the Renaissance Prize; several prestigious UK festival and gallery shows (including ‘Open” at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery May2015) and receiving Arts Council funding for the project ‘Before They Were Fallen’ reflect this new outlook. He has twice been a finalist at the National Portrait Gallery portraiture award and is held in their permanent collection. He lectures at the London Met. and is represented by Picture Tank. Follow Louis on twitter @louisquail

Before They were Fallen – the Blog

The intention was to write and blog about this project on a more regular basis – say, every month, but this is the first time I have pressed the keyboards since our project #BeforeTheyWereFallen received Arts Council funding back in August.

I’m beginning to realize that the sensitivities around the project make it very difficult to blog in the usual manner. I have started several times but how do you write without sounding trivial when you’re talking about a mother who has lost her son? A wife widowed; a child orphaned, siblings and friends bereaved and 453 British casualties? The blog as a format itself seems trivial.

What we can do is to say a huge thank you to the case studies who have participated. I/we want to thank all of you personally for your strength, your emotional commitment and also for ‘getting it’: for understanding what we are trying to do with this project.

In Before We Were Fallen we are attempting to bridge the gap between personal memory and our national tradition of ‘Remembrance’; to give a voice to the families and loved ones of our fallen soldiers. Nationally, remembrance tends to be a formal affair, led by the military where the whole country from the Queen and Prime Minister down to the citizen pays tribute to the bravery of our soldiers.

By its very nature there is distance created between the national act of remembering and the reality of the suffering for the loved ones left behind to cope with their very personal devastation. This distance has entrenched itself in our traditions: ‘we don’t intrude on personal grief’.

In this project we have a very intimate experience of remembrance; we have the privilege of understanding the soldiers as individuals through the raw and personal memories of surviving friends and families and are able to see the sacrifice of the soldiers more fully by understanding the impact on those left behind.

Many people will ask, why intrude on the grief of these people? Leave them alone. Many will be left alone and will want to be left alone, but there is a fine line between respectful distance and simply being ignored. We have discovered that for many, publicly sharing their memories, however personal, is a vital and important act of paying tribute and they do it for a variety of reasons.

Anne Linley, Birmingham,  is doing this for her son Brett: “I want the world to remember my son Brett and his ultimate sacrifice for all time as I won’t always be here to make sure he is remembered. Every thing I do today, tomorrow and always, is for Brett and his memory”

Of course I understand those who would consider the project intrusive, and it is a social and ethical minefield which many would rather step back from, but I also remember back in Kosovo in 2000, when I interviewed and photographed survivors of the conflict for my first project on aftermath, how thankful people were that I had come to hear their stories that had never been told to an outsider before. I realised then, that for many, much worse than intrusion when a loved one is lost, is to be ignored.

So here we are: We have ten case studies completed and ideally we would like ten more. We would still particularly like to hear from soldiers, comrades and friends as well as families, so please feel free to share this.

We’d also like to take the opportunity here to thank Graham Bound, author of At the Going Down of the Sun – a hugely moving and important collection of stories about our fallen soldiers, plus interviews with their friends and families. Graham has helped put us in touch with families which has been very generous of him – thank you Graham!

We would also like to extend our thanks to all those we haven’t thanked before: the folks at Hanbury Hall and Ashridge Arms in Cwmbran, Wales for example for allowing us to photograph on their premises.

Before I sign off, I/we’d like to reveal the confirmed dates of the first show in London at Four Corners Gallery, 121 Roman road as Monday 14th to Saturday 26th of September .

Who’s In Liverpool for Open 1

Very happy to be involved in Look 15, Liverpool’s International Photography Festival this year starting with inclusion in Open 1, at the Open Eye Gallery on the opening night of the festival, Friday May 15th. You can see the Series Desk Job there; the curatorial team have selected six artists whose work is thematically grouped around ideas of social portraiture. Watch out for news on the limited edition book on the project published by Square Magazine. On the following Monday I’m participating in two events : Building the perfect photographic project with Redeye and The Ethics of Portrait Photography, a transatlantic view , at Victoria Gallery and Museum (6.30 pm and free`) .

Desk Job - Workers at their Desks Around the World

 

Be lovely to see you !

Big Cats, New Shoes and Police Corruption: Three Weeks in Kenya.

Today’s Guardian’s Global Development site  is publishing  a story I produced ( with Journalist Zoe Flood ) looking at the extraordinary conditions for the mothers and children  of Eldoret in Kenya forced to scrape a living from the municipal dumps.

Kenya , Eldoret Dump – Living and Working  in Poverty

FlorenceKhalumbia (46) With daughter Alice (7 ) lives just 50 metres from the “California” dumpsite in a one-bedroom hut with her five children. None of the children go to school – she feels that it’s better that they stay home and help their family to earn a living. Eldoret’s main Dump nick named by the locals, ironically, as ‘California’ is home toa community of Kenyans who make their living here recycling plastic, metal charcoal and even scavenging for food either for themselves or for their pigs. The average adult here earns about 150 -200 Kenyan shillings (£1-1.30) The consequences for those who work here on a regular basis including woman and children as young as 7 is tough; with disease, injury, substance abuse and even the threat of violence an everyday reality. 

 

For  Guardian readers interested to discover more, please click/scroll as appropriate:

My Website, Louisquail.com

My Instagram #louisquail

 The Blog:

Phrases I’m unused to hearing include, ‘Louis get in the car there is a Hyena behind you!” Or “Close the windows or the monkeys will get in”( they did) . I am not used to this level of wildlife.  This is the first time I have been to Kenya. I am here on assignment but am squeezing in a family Safari. Highlight of the trip to the world famous Masai Mara game reserve includes having tea with a lion ( well almost). We got as close as the jackal and vulture waiting nearby, anyway, as you can see here…

A Lion With its kill, sleeping off its meal, in the Masai Mara

A Lion With its kill; Check  more on Instagram #louisquail

 

The Work With charity Mary’s Meals

Africa is an amazing country with some amazing places to visit and wonderful people but also complex problems. One of the reasons for my visit is to document the work of Mary’s Meals.

Their charity’s mission is simple: to feed children in schools. In places where there is extreme poverty like Eldoret, this means children who would otherwise be forced by their parents to work, instead of attending school, have the advantage of being fed and educated at the same time. Buying food accounts for the majority of the weekly wage for poor families so for them it’s a no-brainer. The children get fed and educated and very often, respite from some tough conditions at home.

A teacher working in one of the supported schools offered an explanation as to why Monday was the favorite day of the week for one child: “For this seven year old, Monday lunch was probably his first meal since the last day he attended school on the Friday.” In chaotic households, with parents often using drink and drugs, the children often have to fend for themselves.

Me and the journalist were won over pretty quickly by two of the girls who would go to school during the week and work the dumps over the weekend .

Lucy Wambui (13 ) photographed in one of the classrooms at Attnas Kandie School.

They are included in the feature. Bright, cheeky and ambitious, ( ‘ I am going to be a journalist like you when I grow up”) Lucy even had the nerve to ask for a pair of shoes. One has to be very careful to avoid such obvious requests for handouts because of unforeseen ramifications; and it can be frowned upon.  So of course we said yes.

Shoes for Lucy  and Sarah

Shoes for Lucy and Sarah

It was worth it and then some, to see the look of pleasure on Sarah and Lucy’s faces.

In our report we concentrated on the mothers forced to work the dumps of Eldoret to make a living. We worked largely on the main dump. It never occurred to me there would be a problem covering an important story with an established charity; until of course we were picked up by the police.

This ended the photography at the dump, something to do with the right papers, blah blah, permission, etc etc. Ultimately, someone somewhere was looking for a handout . I suspect money exchanged hands simply so the charity could continue its work, or face the possibility of  being kicked out of the country. NGOs and their reputation for fair play are not always welcome in a country famous for corruption.

Don’t take my word for it Here is a link to an article to a friend of mine about Police corruption. Apparently the police kill more people than even the armed robbers .

What I did discover was that Kenyans do not get the best deal from their government and the work of charities like Mary’s Meals is still vital. What I also learned, is that despite many risks there are many Kenyans campaigning against injustice in Kenya.I was fortunate enough to meet and photograph several brave and tenacious activists. Boniface Mwangi , well known for his anti corruption activism, is one of the most well known. He is pictured here at the offices of his company http://pawa254.org/ . Forced into some kind of retirement for his own safety, he is directing his energy into art as an instrument for social change.

Boniface Mwangi poses on the roof terrace of the office at PWA254.

Boniface Mwangi poses on the roof terrace of the office at PWA254.

Like I said Kenya is an amazing if complex country. My time here was mixed: uplifting, shocking and inspiring in equal measure. But perhaps the best memories are those of the Masai Mara. As this is ( predominantly) a British audience, maybe it is fitting to  end ( in practice with internet tradition) with a picture of a cat.