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Exhibition to feature road accident victims
A photographic exhibition at the Oxo Gallery in London next year will attempt to find some form of beauty within the grief and physical trauma of road accident victims.
When Lives Collide is a series of portraits of people who have been injured or lost their loved ones in car crashes.
Alongside the portraits and their accompanying testimonials, photographer Paul Wenham-Clarke has created a series of gruesome photographic reconstructions of crash scenes, using actors and make-up.
"Although they are fake they do tell a story about something real that happened," he said. "But they're not so precise that the person in them would recognise it."
Mr Wenham-Clarke has spent two years on the project and has travelled over 3,000 miles in order to assemble his collection. He made contact with crash victims through support charities and got to know each of his subjects before taking the photographs. Initially, he wanted to take his portraits of crash victims in hospital - but while his subjects were willing enough, the hospitals would not give permission.
For the car-crash scenes, he approached the fire brigade about riding along with them to photograph genuine accidents, but this too proved to be impossible. "You would be taking pictures of people who have been seriously injured or killed, and then trying to get permission later. For me, that's the worst kind of paparazzi photography, and I just didn't want to get involved in it."
While some will see the exhibition as a straightforward safety warning, Mr Wenham-Clarke believes it has an artistic dimension.
"I felt I was trying to really look into the soul of the person," he said. "I realise I'm walking a fine line but I handled the people in the most sensitive way I could. The whole point of doing this was to see it from the victim's side. It's a snapshot of the people and what they're suffering. I think people will look back at this era and think we were mad to put up with it."
For the full article visit http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts