Art & Photography

I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See

Conflict photographer Giles Duley reflects on his recent exhibition, ‘I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See’, a meditation on the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East 

In October 2015, the photographer Giles Duley was commissioned by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to document the developing crisis in Europe and the Middle East. A gruelling, seven-month long project, Duley would visit 14 countries – from the chaos of the refugee camps of Iraq and Jordan, to the terror of crossing the Mediterranean and the reality of life for refugees in Europe – forming a remarkable record of one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time.

Held at the Old Truman Brewery in east London from 4th to 15th October 2017, ‘I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See’ brought together over 100 images from the project for an innovative multimedia exhibition. In a collaboration with the Legacy of War Collective, a loose body of artists who have been affected by conflict, over ten days Duley’s work was joined by artists, musicians and writers, and was host to a supper gathering each evening.

For Duley – who lost both legs and his left arm when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011 – the exhibition was an attempt to move away from the traditional constraints of a photographic show, and to celebrate life, culture and the human spirit in the midst of war and abject suffering. Here, in a film directed by Phoebe Arnstein, Duley and the exhibition’s participants reflect on ten days of food, music, talks and collaborative art.

Photography Giles Duley

Soundscape Rob Del Naja

Artist Semaan Khawam

Musicians Alaa Arsheed, Lisa Hannigan

Volunteer Susana Repaneli

Paintings Young Syrian Children

Director Phoebe Arnstein

Executive Producer Dan Keefe

Producer Michelle Hagen

Camera Operators Robbie Chapman, Tom Sweetland

Editor Theo Gibara

Sound Recordists Duran Darkins, Edwin Weiss, Robert Newman

Colourist Oisín O’Driscoll

Sound Engineer Jeff Smith

Titles Chris Egglestone

Creative Direction Black Sheep Studios