Veterans Photographic Exhibition

My name is Paul Wheeler, a photographer from Sydney, Australia and I am seeking your support to assist in funding an exhibition of photographic works aimed at raising awareness of military veterans issues within Australia and overseas.  The exhibition The Shadows Hide The Darkness Within is a series of photographic portraits, depicting military veterans of all conflicts.  

The exhibition in the Hazelhurst Community Gallery in the south of Sydney (visited by around 2000 people per week) during the period 14-24 May 2016 will provide significant exposure on a regional level as well as an engagement with the public, a very important part of raising awareness.

Being an ex soldier myself with several operational deployments, I have become increasingly aware of the incidence of veterans issues, including but not limited to depression, alcoholism and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) within those of my era and soldiers from previous eras. These photographs seek to go beyond a representation of ex-servicemen and women and instead use such a form to convey a human experience that can be shared to promote thought and awareness amongst viewers.

The layout of these photographs, showing the shadowed faces of the subjects accompanied by large, vacant black spaces epitomises the feelings and thoughts of many who suffer from the effects of their service. The addition of veterans from all conflicts seeks to highlight the fact that, although terms like ‘PTSD’ are modern, conditions like this existed long before the term was coined.

Some of the subjects pictured have lived with the effects of their service for decades, some have recently been diagnosed and some have never sought help, instead choosing to battle on alone. Some have fought hard and overcome their demons whilst others continue to fight. Some do not have any of these issues but agreed to be part of the exhibition to show their support for their fellow veterans. Many have left the military whilst some continue to soldier on.

I have decided to use GoFundMe as a way to subsidise the expenses associated with an exhibition like this. Normally artists use the sale of their works to fund the above costs. I am not selling any of my photographs as I do not feel that it is an appropriate course of action given the subject matter and the level of trust earned between myself and the photographed veterans. As a result I am largely self funding this exhibition although I have received some corporate sponsorship and support. Costs for an exhibition include gallery fees, printing and framing works, hanging costs, printing of catalogues and catering for opening night. I intend to make maximum use of press and social media so there should be no costs associated with publicity.

In short, I will make no personal profit from this exhibition as I also intend to approach Mates for Mates, an Australian veterans support network and will donate any additional funds raised to this organisation.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this. This project is something that I am passionate about and believe in and I know there are a lot of equally passionate people out there. Any amount that you feel is appropriate will be gratefully accepted. I am always available to answer any questions you may have and look forward to doing so.

You can view some of my work that doesn't include the portraits being used for the exhibition here:

Thanks again.
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Paul Wheeler