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Soldier On

As part of the ways of looking festival I was given a few set events I should really attend. One being the Stuart Griffiths talk about his new book "The Myth of the Airborne Warrior". I hadn't heard of him before and when I attended the talk to document it I saw a different side to the conflict in Ireland that is so infamous. I have previously seen Donavon Wylie's work which is exhibiting at the moment in The National Media Museum in Bradford. And so I had seen a photographer who had grown up around the times of "The Troubles" he had looked at watchtowers in Ireland, and then as they were taken down and sent over to Afghanistan to be used as watchtowers over there, he followed them. The work is stunning and moving and shows the development of crossing over views of being on one side where has said he would shout at the soldiers in the street with his friends, to walking with soldiers in Afghanistan through local villages feeling isolated and truly unwanted. Griffiths work is from the viewpoint of a soldier in Ireland in the 80s and 90s. His images sometimes are harrowing and hints at how isolated these men were who were sent to fight against the IRA.

Griffiths says in his book "The Myth of The airborne Warrior", "I did feel alot of animosity towards the IRA...but I didn't find any pride in the reality of the situation". I find this really interesting, you hear stories of soldiers who go to fight for their country but don't necessarily know what they're fighting for. Girffiths says this and implies that yes he did resent the IRA and the trouble and war that had been inflicted on Ireland but it doesn't make him feel proud to have been a part of it. With Wylie's work it is more about his journey of understanding soldiers and the pride and reasoning that goes behind it. And during a lecture held by Wylie he stated well there didn't seem much point. And I feel after reading Griffiths book that he would have similar views. He said that "95% boredom and 5% mayhem". Most of the time soldiers are sent to places just to show a presence rather that steady a seriously unbalanced society. As I am not Irish, a descendent of any close related irish people that have ever lived there I find it very interesting when photographers and artists distribute their stories and the different contrasting views they have.  An audience member during the talk asked Griffiths, What does he mean by the title of the book "The Myth of the Airborne Warrior". And Griffiths replied saying that the myth is that you go to fight and die honourably for your country when the reality is much more blurred and unrealistic to what is commonly heard about being a soldier. I looked more on his site and some of the images of soldiers affected by war are truely heartbreaking and show a darker side to just fighting for your country and taking all the physical, emotional and phsycological damage that comes with it. 


Griffiths, S. (n/a). Portfolio. Available: Last accessed 24th Oct 2011. 
Griffiths, S (2011). The Myth of the Airborne Warrior. Brighton: Photoworks. p39-52.

Half Way Point

So, last Sunday was the official half way point of the Ways of Looking festival which I have been the official photographer for. Its been a bit of a whirlwind. From actually growing a pair and getting myself out there, to meeting the artists and photographers and asking them their ambitions and inspirations to having my work looked at criticised constructively and having it evaluated. I've just seen how many images I took over the course of two weeks, 8 shoots and it totals to 1,652 images. Even I am surprised I didn't think it was quite that many but I am so happy that I managed to develop the confidence to take this many images of an audience that I have had no real experience with. I will be talking more about the festival in future blogs but wanted to give an update and write down some thoughts of so far. For images of the festival go to : And to my website:

Looking Back

The new academic year begins, second year of uni starts and I already am immersed with the module 'Collaborations', basically a work experience until Christmas with an organisation or company. At first I thought it wouldn't be a good module, thinking it was to early to start actual work being a photographer. I didn't feel ready to actually be responsible for representing a company and well putting all my skills to work as I still feel like I'm learning. I managed to set up my collaborations with a renowned gallery in Bradford and photograph the "Ways of Looking" festival which is still going on! The opening weekend which has just gone was amazing and all those fears of being in-experienced did surface but dwindled as I became involved. Artists such as Red Saunders, Daniel Meadows, Donovan Wylie, The Bradford grid, Jeremy Deller and many more were all there presenting their exhibitions throughout Bradford. The opportunity to meet these artists was a privilege as they are my inspiration. The "Ways of Looking" festival is a great chance for Bradford to finally build its reputation up as it has always be infamous and well renowned for crime and violence. I had a few incidents with the public who weren't happy with me taking photographs which initially hurt me greatly as I have never been exposed to this kind of environment but made me realise I need to grow a thicker skin as yeah three people came up to me and voiced their opinions but how many didn't. These kinds of events should be documented, this is the first festival of its kind in Bradford and it was a shame that these few individuals could not see the importance. But many did, the opening night was a brilliant success with hundreds coming to see the opening exhibitions and it made me feel proud and privileged to be a part of this event. One qualm I do have is that more young people should have gone including people from my university. I saw no one from my department there which made me sad and no one from the university even volunteered to help out except at the university itself which again is a great shame as these kinds of events don't happen that often. I guess this is the whole point of the festival, to get people interested, to make people feel yes I can be a part of this community. People often think that the arts is a separate entity that they can't involve themselves with but they can. Art is for everyone.