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Iraq: Photographs By Sean Smith At IWMN

A decade on the war in Iraq examined

Published on February 27th 2013.

Iraq: Photographs By Sean Smith At IWMN

MARKING ten years since the start of the Iraq War 2003, a new photographic display by award-winning British war photographer Sean Smith will be unveiled at IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, in Manchester. 

Smith stayed in Baghdad throughout the allied campaign in 2003, photographing the devastating impact of the conflict on civilians. 

Smith has documented the war in Iraq for The Guardian newspaper since 2003. The display will reveal previously unpublished photographs, on public display for the first time, alongside Smith’s better known images from The Guardian’s coverage from Iraq. 

IWM North presents photographs by Smith taken before, during and after the Iraq War 2003. Two powerful, free displays – both inside and outside IWM North - focus on how war has shaped the lives of everyone in Iraq. 

Credit Sean Smith And Guardian News And Media LtdCredit Sean Smith And Guardian News And Media Ltd

Smith’s photographs in this display reveal the collision of two worlds where local civilians and military personnel were forced to co-exist.  The story of a complex relationship between military and civilian communities - sometimes touching, sometimes tragic - is told through Smith’s own words and images. 

Smith was sent to Iraq by The Guardian just three months before the war began on the evening of 19 March 2003. He captured images of Iraqi people enjoying social events and weddings, while all the time preparing for life during war. 

Smith stayed in Baghdad throughout the allied campaign in 2003, photographing the devastating impact of the conflict on civilians. He then returned to Iraq several times from 2003 - 2008, where he was embedded with both the US and British Army.

Rabbit.Credit Sean Smith And Guardian News And Media LtdRabbit.Credit Sean Smith And Guardian News And Media Ltd

Images depicting women and children receiving humanitarian aid are show alongside Smith’s Photograph of the Year 2006 (Press Photographer’s Year awards), showing US forces taking suspected insurgents for questioning. 

Up to 30 photographs will be displayed in IWM North’s WaterWay Gallery, alongside photographs exhibited on a larger scale than ever before, in  five metre high frames outside IWM North. 

Visitors can meet Smith at IWM North, when he delivers a free tour of his display on 19 March - the anniversary of the start of the Iraq War 2003. 

The exhibition takes place in the IWM North WaterWay Gallery and in the grounds of IWM North, Free Entry – Donations Welcome 

Credit Sean Smith And Guardian News And Media LtdCredit Sean Smith And Guardian News And Media Ltd

Meanwhile, regular A Closer Look tours throughout March will reveal personal stories, photographs and artefacts on display relating to the conflict. 

Objects on display at IWM North include the wreckage of a car - destroyed in the bombing of the historic Al-Mutanabbi street book market in Baghdad on 5 March 2007 - brought to IWM North by Turner prize winning British artist Jeremy Deller.  The story of that bombing features in IWM North’s Big Picture Show, a 360-degree immersive audio-visual experience. Al-Mutanabbi Street: A Reaction plays daily at 4.30pm. 

Every day at 2pm, IWM North’s Big Picture Show, Build The Truce, features the story of Iraqi civilian Abas Eljanabi. During the fragile truce following the Iran Iraq War and the invasion of Kuwait, Abas decided to leave the country and seek refuge abroad. He now lives in Manchester. 

Visitors can book to join a live discussion from 6pm on Thursday 7 March, in the week of International Women’s Day, exploring the impact of conflict on women. Delivered in partnership with The Abundance Lab - speakers include Eugenie Dolberg who trained a group of Iraqi women to use photography to tell their own stories, Houzan Mahmood, from the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq, and Zuhal Sultan, who founded the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq at the age of 17.  

The above event is free but booking is essential via learningnorth@iwm.org.uk or 0161 836 4000.

The Imperial War Museum North is at The Quays, Trafford Wharf Rd, Manchester M17 1TZ. 0161 836 4000.


You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

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