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About the Work

Reaching the Syrian side of the Golan Heights was not easy. I had to find the right office in Damascus, obtain a time-limited pass and then take a journey through five military checkpoints. At each I answered the same questions 'What do you do?' 'Have you been in Israel?' 'What will you do with the photographs?' Al-Quneitra is the largest town in the Golan Heights where in 1967 the Syrians and Israelis fought bitterly. Although Israel retained the Heights, in 1973 Al-Quneitra was handed back to Syria as part of a deal brokered by the Americans.The Israelis left Al-Quneitra devastated and deserted.But so have the Syrians. Today they use it to demonstrate to parties of school-children and the occasional foreigner, the brutality of the 'Zionists'. The hospital was the largest building in the town. A sign outside said 'The Zionists used this hospital as a firing target.' That may be true. From the hills, it would have provided an obvious point to determine artillery range.The view through the windows is of Israel, the Golan Heights bristling with antennae.

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″

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