Exhibition

Razed: Syrian Ruins

22 Jun 2016 – 3 Jul 2016

Event times

10 am – 6 pm

Cost of entry

Admission: Free

gallery@oxo

London
London, United Kingdom

Address

Travel Information

  • Waterloo, Blackfriars, Temple
  • Waterloo

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Arthur Laidlaw’s exhibition examines the destruction of ancient buildings in the Middle East, and their relationship to war in Syria. Proceeds will be donated to the White Helmets – Syrian rescue workers who have saved over 50,000 lives.

About

I am thrilled to announce my first solo exhibition in the UK since 2009. 

My debut show was a joyous celebration of classical architecture throughout Europe and the Middle East. This exhibition is a reflection on the time that has passed since my visit to those countries. 

On the face of things, my subject remains the same. However, my treatment of these places has changed, by design and by necessity. I have asked myself why the razing of classical monuments has a particular effect on the ‘Western’ world. Why did the destruction of these objects, buildings, and places suddenly stir something in people in far away countries, while we have largely ignored the brutality of the Assad regime?

I am still working my way through thousands of photographs I took on the original trip and, as I edit each photo, I am reminded of the touristic nature of my time in each country. This exhibition seeks to reconcile some of my conflicting feelings: the hubris of a ‘Western’ tourist, passing through UNESCO World Heritage sites, with the self-centred belief that these monuments will stand for a thousand more years, surviving a thousand more wars – and the enormous sense of loss that I experience while revisiting the photographs and making the work. 

The layered production of each painting – each stage partially obscuring the last – is a direct reference to the decay and destruction of the subject. But it is also a reference to our own decaying, prejudicial memories, and the way in which we attach narratives to our own histories. Our memories are rarely clear; they are instead murky, distorted versions of the past, that we have edited and shaped over time.

All the proceeds of the show will be going to a small group of Syrian civilian volunteers, the White Helmets. In a world where the word "hero" is loosely thrown around, these individuals are a rare example worthy of the term. They have saved 40,823 lives, and that number is growing daily.

"When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer function, these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need - regardless of their religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets, these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth."

If you cannot afford to buy a painting, the proceeds of all catalogues sold will also be going to the charity. Separate donations will also, of course, be gratefully received. 

You can read more about the White Helmets at their website: https://www.whitehelmets.org/
They also have an incredible Twitter presence, documenting events on the ground as they happen. You can follow them here:  https://twitter.com/syriacivildef

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Curators

Arthur Laidlaw

Arthur Laidlaw

Exhibiting artists

Arthur Laidlaw

Arthur Laidlaw

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