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Side Gallery visit Jan 2020

“If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.”

Eve Arnold

I am shocked to admit that I didn’t know this beautiful little gallery in Newcastle exsisted. I was advised to go by my tutor Dr J O’Rourke as he thought I might enjoy the documentary style of photography displayed there. He was right.

In their own words…

“Side Gallery is dedicated to showing the best in humanist documentary photography.
Side Gallery is a small but perfectly formed exhibition space tucked away on the Newcastle Quayside who passionately promote rich, powerful and challenging work which is engaged with people’s lives and landscapes. The gallery aims to tell stories that often get marginalised, whether they are from the North East of England or anywhere else in the world.”

When I went in January 2020 I was interested in Tessa Bunney’s work showing the Women of UCT6 who are an all female UXO (UneXploded Ordnance) clearance group.

During the Vietnam War over two million tons of ordnance (ordnance is a military term for weapons/artillery) was dropped on the country, this included an estimated 270 million cluster bombs. The problem is that some of these weapons did not explode on contact and remain live today. As the UXO could easily be triggered by someone walking on them, (and killing that person) it has had a profound effect on the development of the country as people cannot access uncleared land.

The Mines Advisory Group has set up and trained these women in mine detection. It is haveing a major impact not only in removing the bombs but also in the lives of the women. Traditionally females would remain at home, but this work is not only giving them a wage, but raising their status within their villages. They are also acting as role models to other village girls. I thought the presentation and the information provided was eye opening.

Strangely, on a personal level I felt very uncomfortable taking photographs of this exhibition, as I felt like I was appropriating someone else’s work, something I never feel when I take pictures of artwork or sculpture. I put this down to the fact that the medium of the exhibition was photography, a medium which I use myself.


Published by stweddle

Living in Newcastle I have access to great landscape; sea, urban, country and city which I am continually inspired by. Starting my artistic qualification in my 50's allows me the benefit of long years admiring others art and a burning need to create my own.

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