Since the 1960’s, Russia has taken recruits from countries in Africa including Angola, Congo and Mozambique to train them to fly helicopters. Now, despite ties with western nations and the war in Syria, Saudi Arabians and South Africans are joining them. As the vast majority of Russians are Slavs, they stand out from the general population as dramatically as they do the landscape.
Transplanted to icy plains from the merciless heat of their homelands, most arrive without speaking a word of a taxing language and have to endure rigorous physical and mental challenges. For a few, the opportunities appear more attractive than at home, but many are not volunteers and the Russian environment is renowned as tough, isolated and at times hostile.
The series is an exploration of parallels between; nuclear weaponry, launch facilities and personnel of the USSR and USA. The still lifes are small details, providing a personal view of the objects and one which contrasts with common media coverage. The portraits are of retired missile crews in their current homes or similarly intimate surroundings. Working on opposite sides in palpably similar environments they provided the structure for the Mexican Standoff that defined this period of all our lives.
They come as the result of my own exploration of my childhood fascination of secrecy and my adult need to explain the multiperspectivity that makes up the real nature of Atomic War. The series scrutinises history in the objects and people. Rather than considering the images of the time, I believe we can see fascinating and profound stories by examining the traces left on objects and on the psychology of protagonists. The answers are in the details.
A limited edition book "ATOMIC WAR IN DETAILS" is to be published soon.
The true nature of national identity and our elemental need to bond with patriotism is questioned in the face of portraits of nationalists of Transnistria. A country that doesn’t exist, but whose symbols and systems have exerted a potent enough influence to maintain a frozen conflict for 25 years with their neighbours Moldova. During the split of the USSR this sliver of land at the edge of Moldova did not willingly secede, but claimed independence as a Soviet Republic. In 1992 a bloody war was fought between Moldovans and Transnistrian separatists concerned by the wane of Russian influence in the region and since that time it has maintained a de facto independence with their own currency, government, police and armed forces.
Invisible on any maps outside of its borders, it remains unrecognized by any UN state; caught between its Soviet history, national isolation and the dream of annexation by Russia.
To the untrained eye, the Tupolev 144 - with its drop nose, square intakes and sweeping delta wings - could easily be mistaken for Concorde. The scramble for the first supersonic airliner belies some unique engineering solutions and a sad end for the incredible futuristic 1960's dreams of the designers of both aircraft in a Cold War battle every bit as serious as the space race. The Tu-144 prototype broke the sound barrier on 5 June 1969, becoming the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. Much was made of the similarity between the two aircraft (the British press dubbed the TU-144 'Concordski' in derision) and the competition was often coloured by claims of serious industrial espionage from both sides.
These images explore the illusory vision of that ideological race through its details. It's an investigation into the gloss that held Macmillan, de Gaulle and Krushchev in its thrall, but has since become out of our reach.
The Soviet space shuttle 'Buran' (Snowstorm) is a marvel of space architecture and engineering. 1206 subcontractors and 14.5 billion roubles were required for its development. Initially a response to theoretical martial uses of the US Shuttle program, the military capabilities of Buran remain classified. The collapse of the Russian economy caused the cancellation of the program in 1993. These images are of Buran 'OK-TVA', found on the bank of a river in Moscow. Some elements of the advanced materials still remain, along with traces of the engineers who built her.
A spaceship unloved by Russia, a reminder of past glories and excesses.
This series of images provide a remarkable visual annal of forgotten moments of a stately home in the run up to its renovation. English history has in no small way been shaped by these residences, as well as their visitors and inhabitants. These photographic details offer a glympse in to the social and very personal history of these houses, something that is lost in the wider context of their historical retelling in textbooks and media. They provide a clear and intimate portrait of the ‘Great House’ as an old familial home and describe our fascination and collective nostalgia for British heritage, but without shying away from the years of decay.
The project continued as a new series through 2011 and beyond, documenting the significant works being carried out to restore the house and the historical details revealed in the process and in 2019 this further series is slated for publication as a 300 page coffee table book by Rizzoli.