A powerful and insightful photographic project has been created by photographer Ceridwen Hughes to highlight the importance of identity for those who transition from the Armed Forces into civilian life. Working in collaboration with Dr Nikki Lloyd-Jones who has recently completed a two year research study, ‘Leaving the Armed Forces and living as a civilian’ they created an exhibition that encourages dialogue and bridges the gap created by the diverse experiences of the two communities.
“From our conversations with ex-service people, it became apparent that historically people have assumed that the responsibility for transition was down to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), whereas, it should be a shared responsibility with the communities in which they live. Dialogue is often around injured and damaged service people, but the difficulties experienced on transition can often be exacerbated by the lack of understanding of their needs by the very communities they move into. Our aim through this project is to highlight the findings of the report and open up dialogue as to what we can all do to make life easier for those in transition.” Explained Ceridwen Hughes.
“Each photograph was designed and created after conversations with the ex-service people and allude to their former and current lives. The aim is to encourage people to want to know more about the experiences of those portrayed. The images are supported by a written narrative and video interviews.”
Everyone who took part in the photographic project has their own unique experience of transition but one common theme running through all their reflections is the need to develop their own shared language with their civilian community.
About Dr Nikki Lloyd-Jones
Nikki describes her career as in two halves, in search of adrenaline and then a pursuit of knowledge and stability. A keen climber, kayaker and mountain-biker she looked to exploit her spare time exploring her physical and mental limits. As a nurse with over twenty years’ experience in the NHS she used her expertise to work on a number of clinical international expeditions. Her first was to assist a cataract surgery enterprise in the savannahs of South America before joining a small British surgical team employed by Medecins Sans Frontiere in Sarajevo during the Balkan conflict. Her last posting was with Medical Aid for Palestinians teaching surgical nurses in Gaza while building links with outside Universities to deliver ongoing education programmes. These experiences she claims have inevitably influenced how she approached the second stage of her career as an academic at Wrexham Glyndwr University. Having completed her PhD in 2013 her research is motivated by a passionate interest in revealing something about identity through the exploration of culture and use of ordinary language.
In 20015 Nikki was funded by Forces in Mind Trust to undertake a two-year research study ‘Leaving the Armed Forces and living as a civilian’ which involved engaging in conversation with many ex-Armed Forces members, listening to their narratives and looking for explanations about influences on decisions in everyday life as a civilian. The collaboration with Ceridwen was inspired by her creative and sensitive awareness of how to tell people’s story through image. This partnership offered a way to help communications with civilians about what challenges can be experienced by veterans in transition, from being a member of the Armed Forces, to being a member of the civilian community
About Ceridwen Hughes
Ceridwen Hughes worked for many years as a marketing consultant. It was not until her son was born with a rare disease that she started photographing professionally. Her passion to create images that allowed people to see the people behind disability led to her starting an arts organisation in 2015 called Same but Different. Since its launch her work has received worldwide attention and has featured in publications around the globe. She has had two exhibitions at the Houses of Parliament as well as the Senedd in Cardiff. Ceridwen’s images have toured both in the UK and abroad.
Examples of comments about her work include:-
"Mother captures inspirational portraits of children with rare diseases to show their conditions are just a 'tiny bit of who they are'." Daily Mail
"Hughes has set about capturing 'the real person behind the condition' by taking beautiful pictures" Women's weekly Australia
"incredible and fun photographs of these kids just being kids" Homegrown magazine India
"A series of stunning images of children each facing their own health challenges" ITV Wales
"A powerful and beautiful display of photographs. The pictures of children were works of art in their own right" Alastair Kent OBE, Chair of RDUK
In addition to the campaigns Ceridwen has worked on she has also photographed live music performances by Stereophonics, James, David Gray and Paloma Faith to name just a few.