UPDATE: A massive thank you to every backer who’s helped Legacy of War reach it’s Kick-starter funding goal. I’m overwhelmed by your support for a project that means so much to me. Currently I’m in Cambodia documenting the terrible impact that UXOs (Unexploded Ordnance) are having on communities here, forty years after the bombs were dropped. Yesterday I met Vanthy Fo, forced to fight with the Khmer Rouge as a child, he returned to his home village when the fighting was over. A few years ago, when farming, he accidentally detonated a cluster-munition, losing both arms. He now struggles to provide for his family, all of their lives shaped by a conflict years after it finished.
There couldn’t be a better illustration of what Legacy of War means, and why collecting and sharing these stories is so important.
So lets not stop now the target has been reached! Please continue to back the project and spread the word.
Its simple, the more funds raised, the more stories told; and there are so many stories to be told. Thank you!
Legacy of War is a two-year photographic project documenting the long-term impact of conflict on communities around the world.
The terrible impact of war affects countries long after peace treaties are signed. The economic, psychological, environmental and physical scars can last for decades, even affecting the generations born after the conflict.
Legacy of War hopes to bring together some of the stories of those affected, from 14 countries around the world. In doing so I hope to not just show the breadth of the issues faced by post-conflict communities, but also the commonality in many experiences.
In Vietnam over 126,000 people have been injured by UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) since the war ended and at El Alamein, in Egypt, landmines planted during World War Two are still injuring local Bedouin, seventy years after the war ended.
Currently there are stories planned in Angola, UK, Columbia, Laos, Vietnam, Lebanon, Egypt, USA, DRC, Northern Ireland covering topics including long term refugees, PTSD, disability, Agent Orange, UXO and landmines, rehabilitation of former child soldiers and sexual violence.
As with most of my work, I will be partnering with charities and NGOs, to also show the incredible efforts being done to help those affected by conflict. Find A Better Way, MAG, Handicap International, EMERGENCY and War Child are some of the NGOs who have already offered their support in making this project happen.
Most importantly though, this project is about hearing the stories of individuals; individuals whose lives have been destroyed by the long term affects of conflict.
Last year I began the project by visiting Vietnam, Laos and Lebanon and I think I can best illustrate this project by sharing two stories, two stories that I believe represent why this work needs to be done.
In Lebanon I met Khawla. She is 12 years old and a refugee from Edleb in Syria. After three years of living in the midst of a brutal war, she fled with her family, however the trauma of her experience overwhelmed her. Last year, she took rat poison in a suicide attempt.
Khawla represents those who have recently experienced war, who despite having escaped the conflict, can’t escape its impact. For her, war will always be part of her life.
At the other end of the scale is Mrs Mun, whom I met in Laos. She was born in Nummen village, one of the most heavily bombed places in the world. Between 1964 and 1973, one million cluster bomblets were dropped in the square kilometre around Nummen.
Mrs Mun was born in 1974, the year after the bombing ended, so should have escaped the conflict and been brought up in a time of peace. However unexploded cluster munitions still contaminate the ground around her home. She was injured twice as a child and last year, as she worked the fields with her brother and daughter, they accidentally triggered an unexploded bomb. When she regained consciousness, she found they were both dead.
Despite being born after the war, its legacy has impacted and destroyed her life.
Legacy of War will be broken down into four phases:
Phase 1: the photographic and written documentation of communities and individuals affected by conflict.
This will be a series of portraits, documentary, still-life and landscapes. My hope is to create a tapestry of images, which give more depth to the issues.
The project will be made on film, using traditional darkroom techniques. I hope this will create images that are more timeless, acting as documents.
Each photograph will be accompanied by the background story and most importantly the testimonies of those I meet.
Phase 2: As a child I was deeply affected by the work of the First World War poets. Reflecting on their power and impact to create an emotive response, I decided to try and collaborate with other artists. I’m hoping by working alongside poets, writers and musicians, the project will be given greater depth and insight.
Already several wonderful poets and musicians have agreed to collaborate on the project. In Phase 2 I will be working with them to create new work based on the stories already documented as well as revisiting some of the individuals with the artists.
Phase 3: This will be the consolidation of the work and production of a book and exhibition.
Phase 4: Will be taking LoW into schools, working with students through talks, workshops and projects.
At this stage I’m asking for help in completing the first phase. The funds raised will be for travel, photographic expenses and other costs needed to set the project up. Its simple - the more money raised, the more stories I can do.
Legacy of War is a culmination of both my work and my life. It represents everything I stand for and have ever hoped to achieve through my photography and writing. This will most probably be my last, long-term project overseas, and it is by far the most important to me.
My own life has been deeply affected by conflict, but my experience is nothing compared to those I photograph. I see myself as a storyteller and for me these are the most important stories I can tell.
I will do whatever I can to make this happen, however I can’t do this alone; I need your support. Anything you can give will make a difference.
Risks and challenges
As with any long term project, there will be things that go wrong. I know that better than most!
However I am confident, that with the support I need, I will be able to complete this project.
- (45 days)