Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
MURAD, photo portrait by Giles Duley

MURAD, photo portrait by Giles Duley

Giles Duley: inspiring action and change

On 4th and 5th July, internationally renowned documentary photographer, Giles Duley, will be presenting his stories and images in his hometown for the first time, as part of a supper club at St Mary’s in the Castle. Duley has been working tirelessly, and with an unparalleled commitment in the face of grave danger, to reveal the simple humanity of those enduring conflict across the globe. His portraits of people who have been caught up in the chaos of war are profoundly personal, and take us deep into their stories and the reality of our shared human state. Felicity Laurence and Dan Matthews of Hastings Community of Sanctuary write.


Each night will see a selection of Duley’s works exhibited, alongside a meal for 100 guests cooked for by the local Hastings Syrian community, musical performances from artists who have been displaced by war, a talk from Duley about his career, a short film about one of his subjects ‘Aya’, as well as a display of a new project which has not yet been viewed before.

The event is inspired by his 2017 London exhibition and aims to bring people together to experience Arabic culture through food and music, stimulate one hundred conversations – and inspire change and action. For Duley, the point of the evening together is to ‘create a place of conversation, collaboration and community…’ in which it is ‘solidarity rather than sympathy’ that guests experience, and a chance to connect with fellow humans – an ethos so sensitively yet uncompromisingly portrayed in the artist’s own work.

Duley’s own background is varied. He worked initially as a successful fashion and music photographer, but in the end, he tired of celebrity culture and turned his craft, as he puts it, to ‘tell the story of those without a voice’, setting off around the world to document the work of NGOs working in conflict zones. Since then, he has appeared widely on television and other media, has won numerous awards, and his TEDx talk was voted one of the top TED talks of 2012. In 2013, he won the May Chidiac Award for Bravery in Journalism, the AIB Founders Award for Outstanding Achievement, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

Giles Duley Photo 'Shamah'

Giles Duley Photo ‘Shamah’

Duley’s work on the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East, commissioned by the UNHCR, resulted in his book I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See. In its depiction of the sheer courage and beautiful dignity of the people portrayed therein, this book is a riveting and compelling photographic account, recalling the humanism of the iconic Family of Man exhibition and publication from 1955 which recently saw its 60th anniversary.

In 2015, Giles began a five-year project, Legacy of War, which he sees as his defining work, in which he explores his central question: What happens to countries and their people once a war is over? “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”. As he explains, Legacy of War “documents the lasting impact of war on individuals and communities told through the stories of those living in its aftermath”. Giles sets this work apart from the short-term political and economic concerns of the daily media, and, “raising issues often neglected by mainstream news and media”, he focuses instead upon the “human and the personal”.

A key aspiration of the project is to create collaborations with poets, writers and musicians, in order to expand the impact of the pictures and get people listening as widely as possible to the stories of his photographs; as Giles comments: “Stories only have power when people listen”. In 2016, Giles worked with Massive Attack who incorporated Giles’s images into their visuals for their live shows.

The Power of a Story Poster-1

At the event in St Mary in the Castle, Giles will work with local Syrian musicians who have come here in the past few years, bringing their musical treasure with them.

This June, the project officially launches as a charity, the Legacy of War Foundation, which will provide support to civilians affected by war, and aims to ‘start conversations, build collaborations and support communities’, in the process gathering a community of those who share ‘a collective motivation to inspire and create change’.

In a short but deeply moving and powerful film introducing his work and ideas, Giles makes clear his view that “photography is such a powerful medium – it really does have the ability to create change” (you can find this film here). Watching the film, you may notice the view from his window – it is of St Leonards beach and Hastings Pier – because Giles’ home is right here.

Giles Duley is one of the great master storytellers of our time. It will be both a poignant and powerful moment when he brings his work to his hometown for the first time.

The event is being hosted in partnership with Hastings Community of Sanctuary, an organisation committed to bringing the people of Hastings and St Leonards together to offer a hospitable atmosphere for refugees living in the town.

The Power of a Story: An evening with Giles Duley

Wednesday 4 July and Thursday 5  July: 7pm – 10.30pm at St Mary in the Castle. Tickets £25 from On sale from Saturday 16 June. All Proceeds to Legacy of War Foundation

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Posted 09:37 Friday, Jun 15, 2018 In: Photography

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