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.
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.
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.
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, www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk
For more information contact Louis Quail on email@example.com or Katy Regan Katy.firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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 www.katyregan.com. Follow Katy on twitter @katyreganwrites
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
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 .