“The terrible impact of war affects countries long after peace treaties are signed. The economic, psychological, environmental and physical scars can last for decades, even affecting the generations born after the conflict.”
What happens to countries and their people once a war is over? It’s a question that has been on my mind since I started photographing humanitarian and conflict issues more than a decade ago. Can we even say that wars are over if people are still dying and lives are still disrupted decades after peace treaties are signed?
Legacy of War is a five-year photographic project by the photographer Giles Duley exploring the long-term effects of conflict globally. Most specifically, Legacy of War documents the lasting impact of war on individuals and communities told through the stories of those living in its aftermath.
With the mainstream media firmly focussed on the short-term economic and political consequences of conflict, LoW is concerned with the human and the personal. It explores the local landscapes and everyday lives of those affected by conflict – often decades after peace treaties have been signed – and raises issues that are often neglected by mainstream news and history.
Legacy of War currently has plans to document stories in Angola, the UK, Colombia, Laos, Vietnam, Lebanon, Egypt, the US, DRC and Northern Ireland, covering topics such as long-term refugees, PTSD, disability, sexual violence, Agent Orange, unexploded bombs and landmines, and the rehabilitation of child soldiers.
Giles Duley, Hon FRPS, worked as a successful fashion and music photographer for ten years. However, having become disillusioned with celebrity culture, he decided to abandon photography and left London to begin work as a full-time carer. It was in this role that he rediscovered his craft and its power to tell the stories of those without a voice. In 2000, he returned to photography, personally funding trips to document the work of NGOs and the stories of those affected by conflict across the world. In 2011, Duley lost both legs and his left arm after stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan whilst photographing those caught up in the conflict. He was told he would never walk again and that his career was over. However, characteristically stubborn, Duley told his doctors “I’m still a photographer”, and returned to work in Afghanistan less than 18 months later.
Duley has since documented stories in Lebanon, Bangladesh, Colombia, Iraq and Jordan amongst others His return was the feature of the award-winning documentary, Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline. His work has since been featured in numerous papers and magazines, and he has talked about his experiences on television, radio and at several international and national events. His TEDx talk was voted one of the top ten TED talks of 2012. Duley is a Trustee for the Italian NGO Emergency and ambassador for Sir Bobby Charlton’s landmine charity Find A Better Way. In 2013, he won the May Chidiac Award for Bravery in Journalism and the AIB Founders Award for Outstanding Achievement, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
In 2016 he was commissioned by the UNHCR to document the refugee crisis across Europe and the Middle East, the result of which was the book I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See.
By June 2017 Duley had already travelled to over a dozen countries in the continuation of his Legacy of War project, a project his sees as his defining work.