Cheltenham Ladies’
College

This exhibition, commissioned by the college in 2022, is dedicated to women and girls caught up in the conflict zones and photographed in some of the most war-torn countries. 

 

They are hanging in the main spine of the College, for all the young ladies to look at and try to digest some of the realities of War and how precious life is. 

They were named by the students after a competition to title and write prose on how the image made them feel.

“Through having a collection of Adam’s poignant and powerful images, we have the chance to share the perspective of someone who has been immersed in the context from which they have emerged. We have the potential to deepen our grasp at the human as well as the geopolitical level and explore the interdisciplinary dimensions behind each photograph.

From such understanding flows stronger and more lasting empathy, and connection, and the urge both to understand more and to act in support of others in the months and years to come.

Recent events in the Middle East and Africa have reminded us of how much we still have to learn about some of the world’s most complex regions, where personal liberty, freedoms and equal rights for men and women cannot be taken for granted, and where civil conflict casts a dangerous shadow over daily life.”

-Eve Jardine Young-

the Principal of the Cheltenham Ladies' College.

A limited number of framed prints are available to purchase - please contact Adam for details .

The two most powerful weapons that don't kill

MOSUL MUSEUM, 

IRAQ

March 13th 2017

As a young girl, Mary Rogers loved looking at photos in National Geographic. She dreamed of a job that would take her all over the world, to see the images in the glossy magazine up close. Rogers became a multiple Emmy and Peabody Award-winning photojournalist with CNN International, placing her in the middle of major conflicts in countries around the world. She has filmed news footage of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Syria and more.

 

“I’m not an adrenaline junkie. It’s not all about the front lines and bang-bang with me,” Rogers said. “In war zones, what I care about the most are the civilians, the human beings through no choice of their own, are forced to live in these places.”

The two most powerful weapons that don't kill

Portrayed in the photo are two of the most powerful weapons that do not kill: the female journalist and the camera held in her hand. A stroll in a conflict zone with an air of defiance, the female journalist grips onto the camera that she is carrying. She holds on to the glimpse of hope that she will be able to document the terrible human rights violations that are taking place currently around her and shed light on the struggles that people trapped in these conflict zones are facing. By sharing the photos that she will be taking with the wider international community, the female journalist and her camera form the most powerful duo.

Lok Van Law (Jeannie)

Hope: the stubborn, the unconquerable

I am fully aware this is somewhat of a long name for a singular photograph. However, there is so much meaning behind the words, which cannot be condensed. The first time I saw the photo, seeing the children smile even in the face of such impending danger, filled me with a plethora of emotions. It made me feel disbelief, that they were still able to find time for happiness, in times of overwhelming suffering. It made me feel gratitude, for my own privileged life, and my countless opportunities to smile without fear. But mostly, the photo like these made me feel awe. So much awe. It still brings chills to my spine, seeing the indestructible nature of human joy. The indestructible nature of friendship, of togetherness, of solidarity. And though these beautiful things can sometimes become lost, or crushed, they always claw their way up to the surface again; even if in small moments, like the one in the picture. I believe to live is to feel joy. This photo is living proof of this sentiment. It is living proof that joy will never allow itself to be obliterated. And this fills me with immeasurable hope.

Catherine Goa

Hope the stubborn, the unconquerable

NEAR BASHIQA, 

IRAQ

October 30th 2016

Iraq’s education system was devastated by ISIS, but there’s still hope of avoiding a ‘lost generation’.

The children I photographed here showed such resolve. No child deserve to grow up without a childhood as we understand childhood. That right to play, that right to learn, that right to share without being afraid that someone is coming to your house or you cannot go to school.

Although there has been many improvements, more equipment and more teachers are still needed for the schools. And the ISIS threat continues to loom in some areas.

Life is starting again, but there is a long way, a long path after a bloody war.

Before and After

Before and After

In reference to the story that after this day these two girls witnessed seventeen same-age girls die after fighting ISIS. The theme of irreversible change and this idea of Before and After, which is indispensable to any girl's life, be the change from girlhood to womanhood. In this case, war speeds up these life-altering transitions, where the girls who lived 24 hours after would have been different girls after they witnessed the extreme suffering and death of many mirror girls, or girls who were a similar age and relatable background.

Myra Saroj Stok

KOBANI,                                                                

SYRIA                                                                        

28th January 2015                                                     

For many people outside Iraq and northeastern Syria, the Islamic State was an abstraction. The Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), counting 7,500 uniformed fighters, some barely bigger than their rifles, one of the most intrepid fighting forces on the ground, the terrorist group was anything but. The women of the YPJ saw firsthand the savagery of the Islamic State fighters who raped, killed, and, in some cases, beheaded women, including their friends. Their existential fight against the Islamic State was also a battle to defend their deeply held commitment to women’s equality and democratic self-rule.

I am enough

In reference to the story that after this day these two girls witnessed seventeen same-age girls die after fighting ISIS. The theme of irreversible change and this idea of Before and After, which is indispensible to any girl's life, be the change from girlhood to womanhood. In this case, war speeds up these life-altering transitions, where the girls who lived 24 hours after would have been different girls after they witnessed the extreme suffering and death of many mirror girls, or girls who were a similar age and relatable background.

Chi Tung Chan (Giselle)

I am enough

AIN ISSA, 

SYRIA

17th July 2017

One of the 1000 of ISIS brides fleeing caliphate as noose tightened on terror group. They told stories that their lives depend upon. All insist they were shocked and appalled when they learned what ISIS was really like. They are the former brides of ISIS fighters - once lured into living in the so-called caliphate. One woman who was married and divorced at least six times, until the judge in the caliphate's divorce court threatened her with being whipped or jailed.

During this assignment they were stuck between the militants' crumbling stronghold and home countries that most likely don't want them back.

The dress my mother made me

The dress my mother made me

The dress is one her mother made for her, on arrival to the camp. Even in conflict, material possessions have an immense worth. What a few threads can make a girl feel during such a tough time is documented by this photo.

Myra Saroj Stok

THE DESERT OUTSIDE FALLUJA                     

 IRAQ                                                                        

23rd June 2016                                                     

People become refugees because of war - Suddenly, for reasons often way beyond their control, they must give up everything that constitutes life -- friends, community, home, possessions, jobs, school -- and flee to what they hope is safer ground. But on numerous occasions, I have witnessed that the woman still proudly make dresses and the men cut each others hair, while the scorching wind blows dust and plastic bags between the rows of sand-encrusted tents.                                              

Stand your ground

In conflict areas, many people choose to leave the country for the sake of their families, their lives and their futures. This woman, however, chooses to stay - to stand her ground and protect the country that she has lived in for her whole life, the country that she loves with all her heart. This photo not only inspires us to reflect on how we stand up for our own opinions and beliefs, but it has also inspired me to stand up for the right thing and what I believe in, no matter how hard it may be. 

Janice Law

Stand your ground

NEAR AL-HOUL                                                         

NORTH SYRIA                                                           

1st December 2015                                                     

This particular position, on a hilltop overlooking the endless, bleak rolling expanse that stretches all the way to the Euphrates River, was occupied by about a dozen members of the Kurdish women's defense units, the YPK. The women, mostly in their early twenties, were commanded by 21-year-old Telhelden (Kurdish for "revenge"), who was dismissive of the ISIS fighters she and her comrades had driven out of Al-Houl.

"They believe if someone from Daesh [ISIS] is killed by a girl, a Kurdish girl, they won't go to heaven. They're afraid of girls."

Efelin, 20, giggled when I asked her if ISIS ever tried to approach their position. "If they do," she replied, "we won't leave one of them alive."

Lost childhoods

THE DESERT OUTSIDE FALLUJA                       

IRAQ                                                                        

23rd June 2016                                                    

Millions driven from Iraq's tormented lands have nothing to return to. In this remote, godforsaken patch of desert, camp residents are cut off from the world. There was no cell phone reception, no transportation, no electricity, no running water. Even if they had the means to go elsewhere, as residents of Anbar Province (where Fallujah is located) they can't go to Baghdad without a special permit because the authorities are suspicious of those who once lived under ISIS.                                           

Lost childhoods

The girl in the picture is extremely young, and yet, forced by the circumstances created by powerful adults, this absolutely powerless child is forced to grow up too soon and help her family survive. As people who spent their childhoods enjoying life surrounded by love, peace, prosperity and innocent serenity we can only imagine what challenges this little girl has already faced at an age at which we were totally reliant on our parents and, I would imagine, were by no means expected to do any housework, or work at all. War forces many children like her to grow up too soon and, maybe without fully realising the seriousness and the horror of the war, they quietly accept the need to do all they can to help their parents. The tragedy of any war is that it takes away the right of children just to be children.

Ekaterina Dobatkina (Katya) 

The girls are back home

276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, and only a fraction were returned. A campaign to #BringBackOurGirls was started, yet even under international attention, these girls were taken from their hometown to live a life they had not chosen. In this image is their visit back home, and the uncertainty of whether they will be able to return soon or not.

Myra Saroj Stok

The girls are back home

CHIBOK                                                                   

NIGERIA                                                                     

23rd December 2016                                                         

I accompanied the 21 girls as they made the journey from the capital Abuja to celebrate Christmas with their families for the first time since they were snatched by Boko Haram. They have been undergoing medical and psychological assessments for ten weeks after being released by the terror group.

IMG_7453.jpeg

Title still TBC

TBC

Traitor in the midst

I am surrounded by demons. I want to make it clear: I do not support them, I do not support their intentions, I do not see myself as one with them. No matter how hard others try to squeeze the brightness out of me, I will not budge, for I will not go to the dark side. Call me a traitor, I do not care; I stand up for what is right. Throw me in with the sharks, and I do not think about getting eaten, I think about surviving, and I think about ensuring others that come after myself also survive. I focus on what I bring to the bright side, and I focus on what is right, for to the evil, I'm just a Traitor in the Midst.

Chi Tung Chan (Giselle)

Traitor in the midst

SYRIAN DESERT

SYRIA

11th March 2019

Taken an arms length, without knowing what/who was in the back of this cattle truck. These ISIS families were on their was to a refugee camp where is its population rocketed from 9,000 to 70,000 after ISIS made its last stand in the Syrian town of Baghouz in March. Weeks of battle led to a large outflux of displaced people, mostly the families of ISIS fighters. Where some women continue to enforce ISIS' draconian rules, camp officials struggle to track down perpetrators. The women are nearly impossible to identify due to the niqab, and switch from tent to tent to avoid capture.

Around 50,000 of the camp's inhabitants are children, and most of the rest are women. They are the ones who held out in the rapidly shrinking so-called caliphate until the very end.

There is no dust in heaven

SYRIAN DESERT

SYRIA

7th February 2019

Here is one of the many toddlers that I found without any parents that had escaped the grasp of ISIS after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), assisted by Combined Joint Task Force took the last ISIS territory in Syria in the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani. 

These forces corralled the Islamic State into a densely populated cluster of hamlets and a tent city within the first week of the battle. The SDF then realised that a greater-than-anticipated number were civilians, most of whom were relatives of the - what were mostly foreign ISIS male fighters. 

There is no dust in heaven

The background is full of displaced persons, arranged like henges, for the child to stumble through. Everything is covered in this haze of dust, as though in some mercy, one can at least not clearly see how many people there are, or how much they are crying. Dominating the upper portion of the photograph is the sky, which seems to lord its serenity over the people below.

Myra Saroj Stok