Return to Kurdistan: revisiting the history and cultural identity of Iraqi Kurdistan and northern Iraq

Speaker: Richard Wilding

25 September 2019

Where: 3.00pm. Medical Society of London, Lettsom House, 11 Chandos Street, London W1

Teatime event with refreshments afterwards

Richard Wilding is a London based photographer, filmmaker and writer specialising in the documentation of costume, archaeology and cultural identity in the Middle East.  Here he explores the history and cultural identity of Iraqi Kurdistan and Northern Iraq, revealing its ancient Assyrian civilisation, religious and ethnic diversity, history of persecution and renewal, and the crisis caused by the emergence of DAESH (ISIS) since 2014.

He shows his contemporary photography alongside historical photographs taken by Anthony Kersting in 1944-46 and Gertrude Bell in 1909-11, the drawings and written accounts of 19th century archaeologists such as Austen Henry Layard and Jacobsen & Lloyd from the 1930s.

Wilding’s subjects include Erbil citadel (ancient Arbela), which claims to be the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Assyrian rock reliefs at Khinnis and Maltai, and the canals built in 690 BC by King Sennacherib to take water to his gardens in Nineveh, possibly the real location of the fabled ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’.

He explores the various ethnic and religious groups that have inhabited the region, including Kurds, Arabs, Yezidis, Assyrian Christians and Jews. He also documents the legacy of Saddam Hussein’s brutal suppression of the Kurds, the recent refugee crisis in the region and the heroic efforts to save heritage threatened by DAESH.

Since 2012, Richard Wilding has been Creative Director of Gulan, a UK registered charity which promotes the culture of Kurdistan. He has exhibited his photography with Gulan in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and in 2017 at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and University of Exeter. In October 2017, his work was exhibited in the Houses of Parliament, London by Gulan and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

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