Monthly Archives: September 2014

David on Tour: Part Two – Not everything goes to plan!

Editor: The continuing adventures of David Smith during his week in Brighton…


iwm-branch-nav-lambethI’d seen an interview with the artist Mark Neville on Newsnight about his photographic exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London.  Fantastic publicity you could only dream of for your exhibition.  Mark Neville was commissioned to spend two months with 16 Air Assault Brigade in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as a war artist.  Neville was taken out on two hour patrols during which soldiers were seriously wounded.

From the Brighton train it is only a brisk walk from Victoria Station.  Arriving for the 10 o’clock opening there were already lots of people arriving to pick up their timed tickets for the World War One Galleries.  But we weren’t going there. Arriving on the third floor I asked two assistants where the exhibition was. Neither knew who Mark Neville was nor that there was a photographic exhibition on the floor.  Hmmm….

Finding the Gallery with Mark Neville written large over the entrance we found seven striking photographic portraits.  What was striking and disturbing was the youthfulness of the British soldiers – teenagers; juxtaposed with Afghan children.

You can see them for yourself here.

Look at Firing Range or Supplies for 2 Scots Regiment.  Then try: On patrol in Sangin.

Firing Range - Mark Neville

Firing Range – Mark Neville

There were three films to see as a part of the exhibition. We sat in the dark waiting… nothing.  Off to see the nearest assistant who said he would call a technician.  We sat again in the dark waiting… nothing. I went out to find another assistant who said she would call a technician.  We returned to the dark, waiting… nothing.  Other visitors arrived but just moved on when they realised that there was nothing to see.

Now for the main information desk three floors down, besieged by Sunday visitors.  I explained our problem.  The assistant kindly phoned for help whilst I was there.  We visited another exhibition: Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War whilst we waited.  We returned to the Mark Neville exhibition to find an assistant flicking on and off a remote control; it was now 11.30am.

“It won’t work he said authoritatively.”  We gave up and moved on… This never happened in the Gallery at Mid Pennine!!

I can’t believe that no-one had checked that everything was working at the start of the day.  Was it working the day before, or the day before that?  Had anyone noticed?

Let’s hope it will come to IWM North on the Salford Quays!

David Smith