“…They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them…”
from Laurence Binyon’s ‘The Fallen’ (first published in The Times, 21 September 1914)
Last week the Royal Armouries hosted the opening of photographer Brian David Stevens’ ‘They That Are Left’ exhibition, an inspiring ten-year project comprising of portrait photographs of war veterans, taken each Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph from 2002 to 2012. The project consists of 100 portraits, a selection of which is currently on display at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds until 1 February, as part of our First World War Centenary commemorations.
As with each passing year our war veterans do grow older, and age both wearies them and condemns their valuable memories, they are thus at risk of becoming unknown. With this in mind, Brian took inspiration from Binyon’s famous poem, saying “the viewer is given no information, just a portrait. These faces then are as of unknown soldiers; no cap badges, no ribbons of spooling medals, no insignia for military rank. They are faces only. Each deep-etched with who they are and what they did, that we might look, and think – and thank them.”
“As the years pass, the number of veterans from World War I has dwindled to nothing and the number from World War II is steadily reduced, but their places are taken by other veterans from newer conflicts, who are also included.”
Below is a short interview with Brian at the Royal Armouries about his collection, currently showing until 1 February.
The exhibition – which forms part of Royal Armouries’ ‘Inspired by…’ programme – transfers in March to Fort Nelson, Portsmouth, home to the national collection of artillery. For more information about Brian David Stevens’ work, please see his website here; http://briandavidstevens.com/ .