Before They Were Fallen, The Exhibition is here.

Posted: August 18th, 2015

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 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.


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:,,

For more information contact Louis Quail on or Katy Regan

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 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