I began working in Ukraine in February 2013 while visiting Kalush, the birthplace of my late grandmother who fled her hometown during the Second World War. With this as a geographical starting point, I began to explore other regions, finding himself by chance in the east of Ukraine at the very start of the ongoing war in 2014. As the situation escalated, I became increasingly inspired by my grandmother’s early life as a person displaced by conflict.
Over the years I kept on photographing, working on several long-term personal projects. In February 2017, three years into the war between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels, I was seriously injured in an artillery strike while photographing in the frontline town of Avdiivka. I was staying with a friend-of-a-friend named Elena in her apartment along with my close friend and fixer Vova. At around 9:30pm on the 2nd February, a rocket landed directly outside the kitchen window. Elena was smoking by the kitchen window and was killed by shrapnel. I was in the next room and received serious injuries to my face and eyes, in particular my left eye which was almost completely destroyed by flying debris from the blown out window. Vova was in the corridor and received minor injuries.
I was evacuated by ambulance to a hospital 5 hours away, where surgeons managed to rebuild my eye. I spent the next 5 weeks in hospital, and 7 months later I am still recovering. These are the photographs I made during my time in hospital as I tried to learn how to see again and physically and psychologically overcome this life changing tragedy.
Presented here are a small selection of the photographs I made. In addition to the images I also have a collection of ephemera, medical images, documents, writing, as well as photographs directly leading up to the attack. My initial idea for a book would be to have a short sequence of images from the last few years right up until the last photo I made a few minutes before being shelled, then a sequence of pure black pages to represent being in total darkness for 8 hours while I was being evacuated, followed by the images from the eye hospital.