Meet the photographer: Inès Elsa Dalal

“As a person of mixed heritage, I feel compelled to question hostility towards migrants and xenophobia in Britain. I respond to photographic commissions as well as self-initiating, managing, producing and curating long and short term projects. I specialise in rights focused, socially engaged, participatory projects and have been nurturing relationships with clients across sectors, across the UK, for the past eight years.

In 2013 I self-initiated a project entitled “West Indies to West Midlands”. This was my first work with members of the Windrush Generation. After learning about how Commonwealth contribution to the British military was swept under the carpet following WW1 & WW2, that veterans weren’t invited to appear publicly alongside their English counterparts in victory marches, I felt it was urgent to highlight and commemorate Caribbean and African soldiers who’ve fought in contemporary conflicts, in remembrance of their ancestors.

I’m equally offended that it has this taken this long for nurses from any of the Commonwealth countries to be acknowledged for their life-long service to the NHS. The relentlessly hard work of nurses from many other nationalities has been overlooked for decades – but Caribbean nurses have been integral to the NHS’s infrastructure since its birth, seventy years ago.

The success of “Here To Stay” surpassed my already high expectations, having been initially commissioned to be exhibited at Sandwell Hospital’s Education Centre (where it remains on permanent display) three additional exhibitions also took place due to popular demand. The series previewed at London’s Truman Brewery in August, toured to Medicine Gallery (central Birmingham) and then to the University of Birmingham’s Medical School. The next exhibition will be at the University of Warwick 15th-29th of June, in partnership with the university’s on-site archival resource the Modern Records Centre and global charitable foundation the Wellcome Trust. The exhibition will be available to tour elsewhere from July 2019 and will travel to South West London vis St. George’s Mental Health NHS Trust 1st-14th of October, 2019. Additionally, select portraits will feature at St. Pancras hospital central London between July and October 2019.

This summer I’ve been invited to exhibit in an independent shop in Harborne called “Hedge”, who have offered to host an exhibition of the first social commentary project I worked on after graduating from Manchester School of Art, in 2011. “Sunny Intervals” (2011-2013) is a documentation of Moor Pool estate: a picturesque, quintessentially English garden suburb in Harborne. I began the project in the interest of preserving its heritage as it was under threat from unscrupulous property developers. Luckily for its residents, Moor Pool has been proved to be un-gentrifiable due to grass roots campaigning, the formation of Moor Pool Heritage Trust and the area’s impenetrable community spirit.

Sunny Intervals” will be exhibited June – August 2019, check www.ineselsa.com for more details in the coming weeks. Hedge, Harborne is open 10 am – 3pm on Wednesdays & 10 am – 5pm Thursday – Saturday. Limited edition prints will be available for sale and 100% of profits will support the continuation of my work. Several photographs from the series will then tour to The Framers, Custard Factory, Digbeth in September 2019 and hopefully Winterbourne House and Garden in 2020.

Later this year I’ll continue to work with in Balsall Heath, having been selected as one of 42 UK-based photographers to contribute to photobook Invisible Britain. I’m currently seeking a female cinematographer to work on a short film I’ve been commissioned to direct.”

Find more of Inès Elsa Dalal’s work over on her website, twitter and instagram


All images by Inès Elsa Dalal.

This article first appeared in the Birmingham Photography Festival IN FOCUS newsletter as the “Meet the photographer” feature, which highlights photographers based in the West Midlands.

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