Pamela Erwin graduated from Photography in 2008 and now lives and works as a photographer in Colorado, USA.
Pam collaborated with graphic designer Claudine Cockburn (also graduated 2008) to produce a publication that documented the treatment of John, a 23 year old veteran of the Iraq war who narrowly escaped death whilst serving as a soldier. The project was featured in The Glasgow Herald Magazine in May 2008.
The project initially started off as a photographic essay which primarily focused on John’s struggle to come to terms with his horrific injuries and his fight to rebuild his life. Whilst these documentary images illustrated his current situation, it became apparent that they could not tell his full story. In order to do this effectively the images would need to be accompanied by other elements, his words, important artefacts, memorabilia and collated in book form. The project ultimately became a collaboration between subject, photographer and designer.
In order to emphasise how veterans are all too often treated as nothing more than a number or statistic by the government and armed forces, the book was given John’s number as it’s title. The cover of the book was presented in the style of a legal document, evidence of John’s story or case. This theme was further explored with the layout, contrasting the highly emotive photographs and words with the cold officious military documentation and rhetoric. The use of the colour red throughout the book is intended to represent blood and is symbolic of life and death, something John knows all to well. It also refers to the red tape endured by John and many veterans who continue to seek justice and appropriate compensation from our largely unsympathetic government.
Although this is John’s story, it is his and our intention to highlight the plight of the hundreds of forgotten veterans in similar or worse situations throughout the United Kingdom.