Traumatic times

Leanne Haywood visits an exhibition, 'Battle Against Stigma', at QUAD, Derby.

The much-anticipated exhibition by Mark Neville, Battle Against Stigma, aims to show the effects of PTSD in combat-stricken countries through the medium of photography. It includes photographs, films, emails and a book that recounts Neville’s own experience as the official British war artist in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2011. On his return to the UK, the artist suffered adjustment disorder and PTSD.

As someone with a passion for both photography and psychology, I wasn’t disappointed. The images are thought-provoking, and many successfully convey PTSD through the people and settings captured in very traumatic times. Also included was the UK premiere of Displaced Ukrainians, with images of children at a psychological rehabilitation camp in Ukraine. Visitors are told that this vulnerable group ‘echoes Neville’s photographs of Afghani youth, often emerging like phantoms from the landscape, mirroring the age of the young UK troops they are engaging with in Helmand’.

One of the short films showed a busy market selling fruits, with many happy faces. You could hardly imagine these people had been through such traumatic times hours earlier: only the silhouette of a gun, visible in every shot, served as a reminder. Many of Neville’s films are silent, allowing the viewer’s imagination to fill in the sounds and conversations people may have been having through shocking times.

- Reviewed by Leanne Haywood, a psychology undergraduate at Nottingham Trent University

The exhibition runs until 24 June at the QUAD in Derby:

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