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Places That Shaped Today's Middle East Enlarge

About the Work

I found the bronze early 20th century monument to peace and martyrdom easily as it stands
in the largest square in Beirut. It commemorates the first Lebanese independence leaders.
They were hanged for their troubles by the Turks during the First World War.
The monument's damage dates from the 1980s Civil War.
Finding the last resting place of those it commemorates was a more difficult task. Thanks to Robert Fisk's research I travelled to the Druze part of the city. And there I came across it, tucked behind a wall, with armed militia at its shabby entrance.
I was allowed into this sad site by explaining truthfully that I make photographs of places in new ways.
But I took longer than I had intended to set up and design the shots. By the time I was ready to shoot the sun was in the wrong place. I convinced myself that this was going to be a disaster but ploughed on regardless.
These were mere artistic troubles. As I was packing, two militia showed up waving their sub-machine guns in a worrying way. They wanted to know why I had taken so long and why I had used a tripod. It took me some time to explain in my poor French how harmless I really was.
It was the only time I felt scared during this trip.

Places That Shaped Today's Middle East

The news coming to us daily from the Middle East give us the impression of a battle zone continuously erupting with violence and mayhem. The photojournalist or news broadcaster's job is to seek out the news-worthy event. Rarely do they focus on the quiet before the storm - the moments between events when ordinary life continues.

While travelling through Lebanon and Syria in 2006 - it struck me that the day-to-day reality of people living under those conditions differed greatly from the news-worthy images sent to us via our media. Most of the time very little was happening. What was of the real interest was how the people there lived out their ordinary lives in a landscape scarred with traces of its violent past and present.

It was the ordinary sitting side-by side with the extraordinary that became the subject of Places That Shaped Today's Middle East. Delving into the regions more distant past I tried to trace that legacy through to the present day - excavating the present situation for evidence of a place's historical resonance while somehow capturing the stillness of the quiet before the storm

About Vaughan Grylls

Born 10th December 1943 in Newark, Nottinghamshire and attended art schools at Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Goldsmiths' and the Slade. He has taught at several art schools in the UK and the US.

From 1996 to 2005 he was Director of the Kent Institute of Art and Design. In 2005 he resigned to concentrate full-time on his own work after joining the Kent and the Surrey Institutes of Art and Design to make the University for the Creative Arts.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

Copyright ©2018 belongs to Vaughan Grylls
Design: www.renebach.dk