STUART GRIFFITHS’ CLOSER COMES HOME TO HASTINGS
I began making these photographs as a response to my personal feelings towards war. This was long before charities started using cuddly teddy bears as a way of making serious injuries acceptable to the masses. I wanted to show the horror of war and its aftermath and realised early on that it was the young people that carried the worst scars of all. To me, when I began working on CLOSER, it was to be a visual protest against war; now the work is complete, I still feel the same way. Bringing the show back to Hastings is like CLOSER has completed its very own tour of duty and this is the homecoming.
Craig Lundberg was blinded in Iraq during Operation Telic 9. Photograph taken at his mother’s home, Liverpool. CLOSER © Stuart Griffiths
Save the Date next month if you are anywhere near the South East coast of England for the opening of photographer Stuart Griffiths‘ multimedia show CLOSER. Stuart Griffiths began taking photographs when he was a young soldier on patrol in West Belfast in the late 1980s, carrying a ‘sure-shot’ instamatic camera in his chest-webbing alongside 120 live bullets, water canisters and field dressings. This is the first time that the entire show, including artworks, has been exhibited in the South East region.
The show includes candid photos of army life taken in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s during Griffiths’ time serving in the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland; an installation of his illustrated and highly personal Xeroxed letters home; and large-scale colour photographs of socially-excluded veterans, accompanied by Luke Seomore and Joseph Bull’s documentary film Isolation (2009), which charts the making of these images. Griffiths’ is not afraid to expose the effects of war making the entire project a candid and unflinching document of life in the British army. CLOSER is the culmination of his complete work to date and will be shown at Sussex Coast College in Hastings from 19 September until 7 October 2014.
Stephen Shine was injured in Iraq after driving his tank over a roadside bomb. Photograph taken at his mother’s home. London, 2008 CLOSER © Stuart Griffiths
As a body of work CLOSER looks at the consequences of the post-conflict condition. Griffiths photographed British soldiers injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and documented veterans hotels, care centers and squats. Griffiths’ memoir Pigs’ Disco (2013) will also be on sale for £20 at the PV and is published by Ditto Press . The title Pigs Disco refers to the monthly party at the barracks where locals girls would be invited for drinks, dancing and sex. The book is a highly personal, often humourous, journey into the heart of the British army during the time of acid, raves and violence in the late 1980s-90s, and is set against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Hayley Murdoch injured in Iraq 2004. Photograph taken at her garage in South Wales, 2007. © CLOSER Stuart Griffiths.
Letters To Bill © Stuart Griffiths
Television room at Combat Stress, Tyrwhitt House, Leatherhead, Surrey, 2005. CLOSER © Stuart Griffiths
CLOSER is Griffiths’ first solo exhibition and was selected by Charlotte Cotton, Val Williams and Martin Parr as the winner of the Brighton Photo Fringe OPEN 2010. It was selected from over 200 entries and was first exhibited at the Phonenix Gallery Brighton in the same year. The show has been touring nationally in its complete form, notably at Birmingham MAC and London College of Communication and is curated by Val Williams.
Jamie Cooper was injured in Iraq (Operation Telic 9), 2006. Photograph taken at his mother’s home, Bristol 2007. CLOSER © Stuart Griffiths
CLOSER runs from 19 Sept to 7 Oct 2014.
PV Friday 19 Sept 6-8pm at Sussex Coast College Hastings, Approach, Hastings, East Sussex.
CLOSER is open to the public:
22 September–26 September
29 September–3 October
Mon 6 and Tues 7 October
20 September, 27 September & 4 October