Socialist Worker

From Baghdad to Bethnal Green: the movement on camera

A new photographic exhibition by Socialist Worker regular Guy Smallman reveals the face of resistance, writes Kelly Hilditch. First Guy introduces a couple of the pictures

Issue No. 1973

Factory in Baghdad

Factory in Baghdad

“The top image is from Baghdad. The blind woman in this picture was working in a factory — she had been blind for several years, most probably as a result of the Iran-Iraq war when gasses were released on both sides.

“This was the sort of story I wanted to tell when I was in Iraq.

“With all the violence people in Britain forget what life is like for Iraqis.

“They forget the fact that Iraq has a huge number of people like this woman — not only having to struggle against the occupation but also against disabilities given to her during the last conflict.

“The lower image is from Basra. The city is built on one of the world’s biggest oil fields — yet there is utter poverty.

“These children were living in the basement of a trade union building because their homes had been demolished by advancing British troops for tactical reasons.

“They would play in the courtyard in the day time, but the whole family would have to stay inside during the night because it wasn’t safe to go out.”

Guy Smallman’s Baghdad to Bethnal Green exhibition follows the anti-war movement from the first Stop the War protests to the present day.

Guy has been a press photographer since the early 1990s. He spent the general election covering George Galloway’s campaign in Tower Hamlets, east London.

“It was the only interesting story in possibly one of the most boring general elections this country has ever seen,” he says.

“I was in Tower Hamlets the night Galloway was elected—and a few people said that I should exhibit my pictures of the campaign.

“The first place I asked to show the pictures was the Brady Centre, which is on Hanbury Street. This street was in a lot of ways the centre of Galloway’s campaign.

“They agreed to give over the space as part of photo month. This is a fantastic collection of around 30 really diverse photographic exhibitions (see for more information).


“When I went back over my photographs I realised that I wanted to broaden the whole thing out to include the beginnings of the Stop the War movement — through to the recent campaign to get justice for the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes.

“By justice I mean that Met boss Ian Blair and those who murdered Jean Charles stand trial for what they have done.

“We held a raffle at the opening of the exhibition—and raised £120 for the Justice for Jean Charles campaign. I’m very proud of that. I’m really hoping that the exhibition will tour after this.

“I think it’s appropriate that it opened in Tower Hamlets, but I would love for it to go wherever people have the space to show it.”

Photographs range from the big anti-war demonstrations, through ordinary people in Iraq, to the Respect election campaign. While many have appeared in Socialist Worker, they gain from been displayed in an exhibition space. Together with previously unseen pictures the importance of the events they depict shines through.

Baghdad to Bethnal Green,
Brady Arts Centre, 192-196 Hanbury Street Whitechapel, east London until 31 October.
Mon–Thu 10am–9pm, Fri 10am–7pm, Sat 11am–4pm. Go to

Children in Basra (Pics: Guy Smallman)

Children in Basra (Pics: Guy Smallman)

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Sat 22 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1973
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