For Frank

For Frank

Date: 5th January 2009

A series of photographic tryptichs and dyptichs depicting the treatment of wounded in Afghanistan.

After two years of negotiations between the Wellcome Trust, Imperial War Museum and Ministry of Defence, David Cotterrell was invited to observe the Joint Forces Medical Group at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He underwent basic training, was taught the rudiments of battlefield first aid and was issued with body armour. In November 2007, he flew in an RAF C17 from Brize Norton to Kandahar, the sole passenger in a plane loaded with half a million rounds of palletised munitions and medical supplies to join Operation Herrick 7.

Focusing on these experiences and their inevitable aftermath, Cotterrell has produced a new body of photographic work. Sightlines, Principals and Supernumerary are arranged as diptychs and triptychs. Shot in the Operating Theatre, these images reference painters famous for their use of chiaroscuro. The lighting and formal arrangements caught in the artist’s lens for a moment distract the viewer’s gaze, suggesting the sublime beauty within horror, the human scale compassion in the face of destruction.

Cotterrell’s work for the exhibition reflects on a brief period of time in Helmand Province, in which two British soldiers died, 29 were wounded in action, 74 were admitted to the field hospital, 71 Aeromed evacuations were recorded and an undisclosed number of civilian, insurgent and Afghan National Army soldiers were treated.

The series consisted of one dyptich and two tryptichs. Each individual image was hand-printed at 99 x 149cm and mounted on Aluminium.

The series was produced in a limited edition of three plus one Artists' Proof.


c-type photographic prints mounted on Aluminium

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Bearing witness: the role of war artists in the 21st century - 26.10.09, David Cotterrell : Kino Eye, Shock and Awe - 19.07.14, Art and War: Truth, Propaganda and Protest - 09.08.14, Trauma - 20.11.15


Art in the Danger Zone, War and Medicine, Krieg und Medizin, Bloody Reality, Transmission: Host


Aesthetic Distance, Aqua Art Miami, Afghanistan, War and Medicine (Canada), Artraker Award Exhibition, Shock and Awe, Trauma


War & Medicine : War Artist Commission


Culture in a Time of Conflict (a), Culture and Consequence, David Cotterrell in Conversation, Army medics on the front-line (v), David Cotterrell on Afghanistan (v), Bearing witness: the role of war artists in the 21st century, David Cotterrell War and Medicine, BBC Radio 4 Today : Injury and Conflict (a), BBC Radio 4 : The Two Minute Silence (a), RUSI : Subjective Views (a), TED : How I Almost Lost My Faith in Photography (v)


David Cotterrell : Aesthetic Distance, War and Medicine : Artists Diary, RSA Lecture : Culture in a Time of Conflict, TimeOut : Military Responses, RSA Journal : Art and Conflict, War and Medicine : Interview Transcript, Guardian G2 : Bloody Reality, David Cotterrell : Kino Eye

Reviews : Aesthetic distance, artsandecologyblog : David Cotterrell - Truth in the mundane, artsandecologyblog : Afghanistan - art and war, Art Monthly : War and Medicine, Yorkshire Post : The Silence That Still Resonates, Creators/VICE : Artists Take On Trauma Recovery in Dublin