25 February 2016 by Sam
Photographer Lee Karen Stow talks about her continuing work on the Poppies: Women and War project – something which you can find out more about in her free talk and exhibition tours on Saturday 19 March, as part of our International Women’s Day programme of events:
“My work for the Poppies: Women and War project has not ceased since the images were hung on the walls of the Museum of Liverpool. Stories of women and war, and peace, are coming at me more strongly than ever, so I have decided to pursue them.
Perhaps because the women themselves are reaching a time in their lives when they want to share what they have experienced. Some realise time is running out. Like Teruko and Reiko, women A-bomb survivors (hibakusha) who I met and photographed last year in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the anniversary of the atomic bombings of 1945.
Others have left the scene. Concepcion Picciotto, who maintained a protest for peace and an end to nuclear war in a plastic makeshift tent outside the White House in Washington DC died on 25 January 2016, aged about 80. Her protest of 30 years is considered to be the longest political protest in American history.
In 2007 I made a portrait of her as she gave the V-sign of peace in her tent outside the White House. Then I couldn’t comprehend how a woman would give up everything to campaign day-in, day-out for an end to war. After working on Poppies and meeting so many women affected by war, from Holocaust survivors and African civil war amputees to women like Sarah Hipperson, a protestor for 20 years at Greenham Common, I hope I understand more.
Yet I had forgotten about Concepcion Picciotto until I heard of her death on the news. Others forgot about her too. Five presidents of the US ignored her. I read that not one of them had crossed the road from the White House to listen to her appeals for peace and justice in the world. Now she is in a flutter of newspapers, has made headline news, and I wish she was on the walls of Liverpool too. How many more women am I, are we, forgetting, ignoring?
I’ll bring along her photo to the Museum of Liverpool on Saturday 19 March when I give my free talk Photography: women and war. In the meantime, I share with you a photo of her house for three decades, and her hand-made signs which many hope will be preserved and displayed, and not trashed or thrown away.
Strangely, I am heading back to Washington DC in late March to meet some of the female veterans of the Vietnam War. Yes, women served there too, as young as 19, An estimated 1,200 women in fact who have rarely spoken about their experiences, until now.
Hope you’ll follow me. Until then…”
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