An exhibition designed to promote a spirit of reconciliation and reflection three decades after the end of the Falklands War is coming to Plymouth University.
Voices of the South Atlantic is the brainchild of photographer Adriana Groisman and features more than 50 images taken on the islands and the surrounding waters over the space of nine years.
It records how indelible marks were left on the island landscape, and is particularly timely with it being the 30th anniversary of the conflict in 2012.
Parts of the exhibition, being staged in the Peninsula Arts Gallery within the University’s Roland Levinsky Building, have previously been shown in galleries around the world.
But Adriana said this was the first time it had been drawn together and she was particularly pleased that was going to happen in Plymouth.
She said: “Plymouth played such a huge part in the Falklands War as it was where the naval task force sailed from. I have spoken to many British officers over the years and they always speak about it, so it always felt this was a key place to come. Many veterans still live in this area, but I hope this exhibition may go some way to facilitating some sense of closure 30 years on.”
Adriana was born in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, moving to live and train as a photographer in New York in the mid-1980s.
But growing up in the South American nation, she said everyone was aware of the ‘Malvinas’ but little was done about them until the spring of 1982.
Then, she said: “I can remember towards the end of March that year, people used to go the Plaza del Mayo in Buenos Aires to protest against the military junta. But then, just a week or so later, we invaded the Falklands and suddenly the square was filled instead with people supporting the same leaders. It was a very quick turnaround.”
Adriana first tried to visit the Falklands in the early 1990s, when she was commissioned by The Sunday Times to capture pictures of the islands to mark the war’s 10th anniversary. But being an Argentinian native, despite the fact she was now living in New York, her visa was refused.
She later ed survivors and both sides and was then employed as a still photogrpaher and facilitator to bring together officers who had served on two of the conflict’s most infamous ships, the Argentinian ARA Belgrano and the British HMS Conqueror, for a documentary by National Geographic.
That led to her being given greater access to the islands themselves and Adriana has visited many times over the past nine years. She has also taken pictures of the waters where the Belgrano was sunk and those feature in the exhibition.
She said: “The landscape of the Falklands today is beautiful, but it is a disturbed landscape. When you are there it is as though you are surrounded by ghosts in some way. A lot of people, I am sure, have only seen pictures of them in black and white so I hope this gives them a new view of the place."
Adriana also said the 30th anniversary was, in her opinion, an opportunity for reconciliation rather than the reopening of new areas of conflict.
She added: “For some people in Argentina, the story of the Malvinas is etched in our national identity as much as tango and football. There are those who remain radical about reclaiming them but I think the majority would prefer the Government concentrated on our domestic problems and found an alternative when it came to the islands.”
The Voices of the South Atlantic exhibition runs from Saturday 14 July until Friday 24 August and admission is free. The Peninsula Arts Gallery at Plymouth University is open from Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, and on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm. For more details, the box office on 01752 585050.