End of the Caliphate and Seeking Shelter: Ivor Prickett
Updated: Nov 28, 2019
Ivor Prickett at the Side Gallery Newcastle
Today we visited the Side Gallery to see the new installation by Irish documentary photographer Ivor Prickett. A graduate of Newport University in Wales he has been working for the New York Times as a photojournalist covering the defeat of ISIS on Iraq and Syria. This is a display that will last until December 2019 and covers the top two floors.
This particular exhibition consists of images from his books End of a Caliphate looking particularly at the very end of the war and the Battle for Mosul across 2016-18 and Seeking Shelter which has images taken from the Middle East during 2012-16 of the horrendous refugee situation.
Ivor was working alongside the Iraqi Special Forces documenting their fight to reclaim the city stronghold and the toll endured by the civilian population around the area. The operation ran for 9 months in which there were thousands of deaths in some of the most brutal urban fighting since World War II.
The images in the book and gallery focus mainly on the human struggle during a prolonged conflict. The suffering, loss, despair and devastation can be seen clearly in the exhibitions large prints which capture your eye as you ascend into the first and second floors. The chronology of the images has only been changed on two occasions to enhance the display but otherwise follows the flow of the book.
Most of the images have been carefully printed by Genesis Printing in London and framed by the Side Gallery. The enlarged prints however were done in house at Side with the guidance of Ivor. His creative control led to two reprints and 1 change on photo before the exhibition was finalised.
The staff at the Side Gallery were particularly excited as the exhibition was being featured this very day in the *Guardian Newspaper and its quite rare for a smaller local gallery to feature in the national press let alone a full centre page feature.
This is Ivor's first full exhibition. He has features work at the Side before in 2012 but only as part of a larger exhibition with multiple photographers.
The Side hosted a talk with Ivor on 28th Sept which I could not attend sadly. I've added a link below to the talk as it was videoed and we were given a nice synopsis on the day by Lee as it wasn't currently online.
The war has forever changed Syria with half of the population displaced to other countries and those that remain living in dangerous plight. Thus it's important that galleries like the Side give credence to such exhibitions so that we can see the impact the war has had and why refugees arrive on our doorsteps. From entering the exhibition on the second floor and stopping to read the prologue you immediately get the sense that what you're about to see is going to affect your views.
I slowly followed around the story written in very well executed photographs, in vivid colour showing real images of the people affected by this conflict and what is everyday life for them. This conflict has caused the global count of refugees up to 50 million, the largest figure since World War II.
Ivors work has been nominated for a few prizes including the Pulitzer Prize and World Press Photo of the Year for two images. I would have to admit not knowing what he was up against but I feel this moving piece of work to be worthy of merit and stands above a lot of other documentary pieces i have seen.
What I particularly like is these shots are all very well considered and perfectly exposed so time must have been taken to shoot, some wartime photojournalism is shot fast and without correct focus. The time taken on the shots might reflect a calmer time but gives you a great depth and loads to look at within the shots, details matter.
I did a bit of further reading when I got home after the visit. The British Journal of Photography had a bit on the story as well as some images taken of the rebuilding process which are not included in the exhibition. The image below is quite heart warming showing Eissa al-Ali and his family returning to their destroyed neighbourhood to begin remaking their lives.
It's worth remembering that the exhibition in the Side Gallery is there as a Documentary Narrative piece which has built over time, but his original work was commissioned by the New York Times as ongoing photojournalism.
To conclude this is a great body of work from a brave man who has owned bringing the effects of this war back to the people who who were "protected" by it.