Exhibition / 28 Jan – 25 Mar 2023

We Are Here, Because You Were There

Andy Barnham, Dr Sara de Jong

Exhibition Preview: Friday 27 January, 6-9pm

In January 2023, Ffotogallery is proud to present a new exhibition ‘We Are Here, Because You Were There’, a collaborative project by photographer Andy Barnham and researcher Dr Sara de Jong. The work uses portraiture and quotes to document the experiences of Afghan interpreters employed by the British Army who recently resettled to the UK.

Photographer Andy Barnham has edited the portraits to help anonymise the interpreters still at risk, and have family in Afghanistan who are under threat. The portraits presented are a composite of up to a dozen frames which have been blurred or pixelated and then overlaid to present a final portrait. This process can also be seen as inflicting trauma on the portraits, in acknowledgement of events experienced when serving with NATO forces and escaping Afghanistan.

The quotes are from in-depth interviews conducted by Sara de Jong, which cover the Afghan interpreters’ motivations to work for the British Armed Forces, their working alongside soldiers, the threats they faced in Afghanistan, their evacuation, their early experiences in the UK and hopes for the future for themselves and their families.

Focussing on Afghan interpreters’ own stories invites viewers to engage with the people behind the headlines, and encourages reflection on the deep entanglement between the UK and Afghanistan. Together their individual stories and images reflect the structural and lasting impact of Britain’s military employment practices, immigration laws and foreign policy.

About Artists

Portrait of Andy Barnham

Andy Barnham

Andy Barnham is a photographer, veteran and son of a refugee. Mixed race English/ Chinese and multilingual (English, Chinese, French and Farsi) Andy was born in Hong Kong and attended school and university in the UK before serving as an officer in the Royal Artillery, deploying on operational tours multiple times to Iraq, Cyprus and Afghanistan where he documented his experiences as a hobbyist photographer. After leaving the British Army Andy turned this passion into a career and landed on Savile Row becoming immersed in London’s sartorial scene. For over a decade he photographed the best of British heritage and craft for luxury editorial titles before focusing his observational and interpersonal skills on portraiture. We Are Here was a winner at the 2022 Prix de la Photographie, Paris (PX3) photography awards in the portraiture category.

Portrait of Dr Sara de Jong

Dr Sara de Jong

Dr Sara de Jong is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics, University of York, who researches the protection and resettlement of Afghan interpreters employed by Western armies. Since 2017, she has conducted more than 80 interviews with interpreters and advocates in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands. She is also the co-founder of the charity Sulha Alliance, which advocates for Afghan interpreters who worked for the British Armed Forces.