The Ward – Revisited
Exhibition dates: 6 January – 5 February 2023
Open to the public: Tuesday – Saturday 11.00 – 18.00 and Sunday 12.00 – 17.00
Film running times: The Ward (21 minutes) The Ward Revisited (36 minutes) looped
Free, you don’t need to book
Watch the interviews if you can’t come along
The Fitzrovia Chapel is proud to announce its forthcoming exhibition, The Ward – Revisited by Gideon Mendel. In 1993, Gideon spent a number of weeks photographing the Broderip and Charles Bell wards at the Middlesex Hospital. The Broderip was the first dedicated AIDS ward in London, and was opened in 1987 by Princess Diana. Twelve of these poignant black and white images were exhibited as The Ward at the chapel in 2017, the location of the Fitzrovia Chapel taking on a special resonance as the chapel is today the only remaining building of the Middlesex. The Ward – Revisited exhibition will comprise a large-screen video installation of many more and previously unseen images with a specially composed soundtrack, as well as a new short film with interviews of people who appear in the original photographs. This new exhibition also ties in with Terence Higgins Trust’s 40th anniversary, the photographs for TheWard being originally commissioned as part of their 10th anniversary in 1993.
Marking 30 years since the photographs were taken, this new film by Gideon Mendel is a visceral depiction of the effects of HIV/AIDS on the lives of the individuals in the photographs, as well as a much broader questioning of the essence of photography and its relationship to memory. Gideon describes: “All the patients I met, many of whom were young, gay men, were facing the terrifying prospect of an early and painful death. I focused my work on John, Andre, Stephen and Ian, who all died in the months after the pictures were taken. They were some of the unlucky ones, who became sick just before life-saving antiretroviral treatments became available. Considering the extreme levels of stigma and fear that existed back then, their decision to allow themselves to be photographed, alongside their lovers, families and friends, was an act of considerable bravery.The photographs that I made in this short period have had their own journey over the 30 years since I took them and it has become clear that despite the passing of so much time they still speak deeply to many people. As the period they document recedes into history, interest in them seems to keep growing.”
One of the visitors to TheWard in 2017 was Patsy, the mother of John who often appears with him in the photographs. Contact with her had been lost and the last day of the exhibition provided a serendipitous reunion between Patsy, Gideon and the medical team who had looked after her son. The additional new short film of interviews will be an opportunity to hear first-hand from Patsy as well as other people in the photographs: Sarah and Hannah Feeney, the sister-in-law and niece of Stephen, Dr Rob Miller (now also a trustee of the chapel), Jane Bruton the pioneering sister on the ward, Dr Ade Fakoya, Dr Duncan Churchill, Sarah Macauley a staff nurse on the ward who became close friends with Stephen, Chris Mazeika who gave the medical staff shiatsu and who was friends with Stephen, as well as Gideon himself, describing how and why these important images were taken.
29 and 30 Jan
The Fabric of Love: Kids (5 yrs+) workshop inspired by The Ward – Revisited – An age-appropriate kids (5 yrs+) craft workshop inspired by our exhibition The Ward-Revisited and the AIDS Memorial Quilt. More information and book on Eventbrite.
Wednesday 1 February 18.45 – 19.45
Picturing HIV – Panel discussion looking at the representation of AIDS/HIV in popular culture from television theatre magazines and graphic design. More information and book on Eventbrite.
Friday 3 February, 18.45 – 19.45
The Ward – Revisited: Gideon Mendel in Conversation with Isaac Huxtable – Photographer of The Ward, Gideon Mendel, discusses the project’s evolution over thirty years with arts writer Isaac Huxtable. More information and book tickets on Eventbrite.
You can watch the interviews on Vimeo if you can’t make it to the chapel.