Portrait Salon

Clare Hewitt

Eugenie

‘That night the blind man dreamt that he was blind.’ José Saramago.

Clare Hewitt’s portrait of Eugenie (below) was selected (and used on the cover of our publication) for Portrait Salon 2013.

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

‘I first started photographing Eugenie in 2011, around ten years after her life had been unexpectedly and abruptly changed by a stroke, which had left her severely visually impaired, unable to walk and talk, and with restricted memory. To this day she can’t be sure of her age.’

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

‘I was introduced to Eugenie through the Haringey Phoenix Group, a London based charity for blind and visually impaired people. I had approached them because I was keen to spend time with a person who had experienced one of my own fears, loss of sight.’

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

‘I visited Eugenie once a week for three and a half years and have observed many aspects of her self. The idea that Eugenie would not see my representation of her encouraged me to portray her as sensitively and transparently as possible, valuing all the time we spent together. In the end though, I could not help but make a body of work that is primarily my own emotional response to her adaptation. The work is a truth, whether it is hers, mine, or a blur of both.’

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

‘Through her own strength and the help of The Haringey Phoenix Group Eugenie’s condition has improved considerably, but her permanent visual damage and memory loss means she still struggles with the changes she has undergone.’

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

‘In one sense her life has become complicated, vulnerable and overcrowded with frustration. In another it is simple, repetitive and monotonous, an oiled routine. Either way it is far removed and excluded from the society she first lived in, with its warped ideals of beauty, strength and heroism. For her it is now a very different way of the same life.’

Untitled (from the series 'Eugenie')

Clare Hewitt is a photographer based in London. After completing a degree in law, Clare returned to university to study photography. In 2011 her work was selected for Fresh Faced + Wild Eyed at the Photographers’ Gallery, and has since been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. She is regularly commissioned by various publications including The Independent Magazine and Oh Comely.

www.clarehewitt.co.uk
@clarehewitt_
Instagram: clare_hewitt

James O Jenkins

Phil Le Gal

Days of Mercy

Phil Le Gal’s portrait (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2014 and is part of his work entitled ‘Days of Mercy’, a study of the area Brittany in France. Phil was born and lived in Brittany until he moved to London in 2003. He graduated with an MA at the London College of Communication in 2014.

Phil_Le_Gal-DaysOfMercy-015‘Brittany is a land of many beliefs, cults and traditions. Successively the territory of Celts, Gauls, Romans, Bretons and finally Francs, the peninsula boasts a particularly important cultural heritage. With thousands of places of worship and religious relics scattered across the region, Christian Catholicism is the de facto religion in Brittany. The Celtic peninsula offers a very pious face to visitors, a construct built upon hundreds of years of pagan beliefs. One of the most prominent illustrations of this fact can be seen during the ceremonies of the Pardon (French for Forgiveness).’

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‘Every year local Catholic saints are celebrated across the region in an eclectic mix of superstition, religion and rites of pagan origin. For hundreds of years on the same Sunday, relics of saints are paraded around towns, in a procession which goes on sometimes for most of the day. Every Pardon is unique but the general aim is to ask forgiveness and redemption for committed sins from a particular saint. Every saint is a patron for a specific profession (lawyers, sailors, etc), an activity (travellers/pilgrims or more recently motorcycle riders) and even some for animals.’

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Phil_Le_Gal-DaysOfMercy-004‘The bulk of the season happens between May and September. During that time, every Sunday sees the celebrations of a saint. This culminates with the most fervent moment around the 26th July when many Pardons are dedicated to Saint Anne, patron of Breton people. Christian Catholics celebrate their religion in many different displays of faith. This heady mixture of tradition, religion and paganism seen at Pardon ceremonies remains an unique occurrence within the Christendom still to date and only visible in Brittany.’

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Phil_Le_Gal-DaysOfMercy-005‘The project Days of Mercy attempts to decode the practice of ancient religious rituals deeply buried in the heart of brittany and equally to Breton’s psyche. It also tries to answer questions about the role and place of this ongoing traditions on today’s Breton’s culture as well as documenting and revealing the various forms that the Pardons can take. With a church congregation losing its appeal it is feared the next generation might not be able to perpetuate these century old practices.’

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Phil Le Gal is a French documentary photographer who specialises in documentary, reportage and portraiture. Much of his practice stems from his interests in the contemporary social, environmental and globalisation issues. After training in photography at London Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design and later graduating with a Diploma in Arts and Design Digital Photography he has completed a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication.

phillegal.org

James O Jenkins

Michal Solarski

Hungarian Sea

Michal Solarski’s portrait (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2012 and is part of his work entitled ‘Hungarian Sea’ which saw him revisit Lake Balaton in Hungary where he spent summer holidays as a child.

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‘We were heading south. It was the most exciting time of every year. Luggage, fixed to the top of out tiny Fiat made the car look almost as high as it was long. There were three hundred miles to drive but for us it was almost an eternity. Three hundred miles could easly take more than one day if we happened to come accross nasty officers at the border, who would scrutinise our car inside out in case we were smuggling contrabands.’

Solarski_M_HungarianSea_1

‘Equipped with government-issued food vouchers and a little amount of pocket money in local currency, we were driving to a warm, colourful and pleasant place. For us, coming from sad, cold, and almost monochromatically grey Poland, it was like a window to the world. On arrival we found ourselves surrounded by a multitude of smells and colours. I would play endlessly on the beach with my sister and my parents. We would swim in the warm waters of the lake. For the next two weeks we would indulge in the holiday spirit until the day we had to make our way back home.’

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‘The Hungarian Lake Balaton is the largest in Central Europe. As Hungary is landlocked, the lake is often called the ‘Hungarian Sea’. From the 1960s onwards Balaton became a major destination for ordinary working Hungarians as well as for those from the eastern side of the ‘Iron Curtain’ who were rewarded for their work in building socialism with a permit to travel across the border. As we could not dream of travelling to Spain, Italy or Greece, Balaton was the closest and most achievable destination for ordinary Poles to see ‘what’s out there’.’

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‘My family and I were among the lucky ones who could go and spend holidays in what appeared to us a paradise. Twenty-odd years later, going through the pages of my family album, I found only one photograph of Balaton. It was a blurry picture of my sister and I, that was taken somewhere on one of the lake’s piers. This snapshot was the only reminiscence of six subsequent summers spent by the lake.’

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‘These images are my attempt to create what my parents failed to do. I try to see the world through the eyes of a little boy who used to holiday there with his parents and sister over twenty years ago. Strolling among ruins of the glamorous, back in the day, concrete villas of Castro, Brezhnev and Honecker, the memories start to flood back. Balaton has hardly changed, it is almost exactly the same as I left it. Perhaps a bit more rusty, but the atmosphere remains the same. Only now for me it is no longer a paradise. I have grown and changed.’

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Michal Solarski is a London based photographer. After graduating in Poland with a Masters in Politics, Solarski moved to London and studied at The London College of Communication where he earned an additional masters in Documentary Photography. He divides his professional career between advertising and his personal projects, travelling extensively between the UK and Eastern Europe where he produces the majority of his work. Most of his photography is strongly based on his own background and experiences, with a strong concentration on migration and memories. Solarski’s work has been widely exhibited (many group exhibitions in Europe, USA and Canada and his first solo show last year in Toronto) and published in many different publications including The Guardian, Time, GQ, Vanity Fair among others.

michalsolarski.com
@michalsolarski

James O Jenkins

Andrew Youngson

The Devil’s Garden

Andrew Youngson’s portrait of Mastoor Ali Atia (below) was selected for the first Portrait Salon in 2011 and is part of his work entitled ‘The Devil’s Garden’ documenting Bedouin communities living amidst Second World War minefields in Egypt’s Western Desert.

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Mastoor Ali Attia (43) was injured at El Alamein in the early 1990s. He was dining in the desert with friends when their campfire triggered UXO buried beneath it. Mastoor lost his left arm, left eye and penis. His left leg is partially lame. After the explosion he was unconscious for one week and is now awaiting plastic surgery.

‘It is estimated that approximately 17 million unexploded anti-personnel and anti-tank mines; artillery shells; bombs dropped by aircraft and machine gun, small arms and mortar rounds remain beneath the sand.’

2Negi Helal Khamis (39) was injured in 1998 at El Harabi when he and another man prepared a fire for lunch. After the explosion Negi was left deaf in one ear, blind in both eyes and with shrapnel injuries to his left arm. The other man was killed.

‘Official records of incidents involving UXO have not been kept until recently but it is believed thousands of Bedouin have been killed or injured since the end of the Second World War.’

Looking south into the desert from the Alexandria/Marsa Matrouh Road.
Looking south into the desert from the Alexandria/Marsa Matrouh Road.

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Fouad Abu Sake (67) picked up an object in the desert twenty years ago near Sidi And El Rahmen. When it exploded he lost his right arm above the elbow and was hit in the face by shrapnel. Fouadi’s older brother, Meftah was killed by a mine while walking in the desert in the early 1950s.

‘The term ‘Devil’s Gardens’ was first used by the German General Erwin Rommel to describe the box-like areas of minefields and barbed wire installed by Allied and Axis forces during the conflict.’

5Saleh Beha (47) was found by scrap metal dealers after he stepped on a mine in the desert twenty years ago. Saleh bought his first artificial leg 4 or 5 years after the incident and now runs a small shop.

A boy walks in the desert south of El Alamein.A boy walks in the desert south of El Alamein.

7Rabeh Dawi Salem (40) stepped on an anti-personnel mine in 1986, leaving his left leg so badly damaged that it had to be amputated above the knee. Rabeh used to own an artificial leg but prefers to use a crutch.

Andrew Youngson is a London-based photographer and writer whose work explores the relationship between landscape and memory, specifically in conjunction with the long-term effects of armed conflict.

He has worked with UNICEF in Ethiopia; Al Haq in Palestine; SOS Sahel and Book Aid International in the UK; Bedouin communities affected by Second World War land minesin Egypt and unexploded ordnance contamination in Berlin.

After graduating with degree in Fine Art Andrew interned at Magnum Photos and has been working as a freelance photographer since 2006.

andrewyoungson.com
Twitter: @ayoungson
Instagram: @ayoungson

James O Jenkins