‘Aden Then & Now’ Relaunches at Parkside Gallery in November!

By BCMCR Alumni on November 2nd, 2021

‘Aden Then & Now’ is an interactive exhibition which draws on archival material from 1914 onwards in what was then known as the ‘Aden Protectorate’ to better understand more contemporary developments of the current war in Yemen.

From the 1914 Battles with the Ottomans and the 1965-1967 ‘riots’, to the rise of Al-Qaeda in the late nineties; from the outbreak of the civil war in the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings, to the more recent military intervention by the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen is a country torn by long years of conflict and unrest.

Drawing on print and audiovisual archival material and photographs from the early 1900, and on more recent contributions from Yemenis who live in Aden today, this exhibition is an opportunity to rethink the contemporary legacies of the ‘Great War’ in Yemen, and to explore the human, political and ethical costs of being involved in a war which has been going for over 100 years.

Aden Yemen 1916

Aden Yemen, 1916, Old Town


The exhibition includes a selection of pictures shot by Ron Watson who served as part of the British Armed Forces in Aden between 1961 and 1967, which we confront with a more recent series of interviews recorded in 2019 in Aden by Ali Gaboor. In these recordings, Ali asked his interviewees to talk about how it is like to live in a country torn by war, to describe their day-to-day lives, and to speak to us about their hopes and dreams.


Photographs by Robert McCann

Photographs by Robert McCann

Photographs by Ron Watson

Photographs by Ron Watson


Alongside these archival materials, I worked with Dan Burwood, a Birmingham-based artist and photographer, on a series of interviews with a number of British-Yemenis. ‘Our War in Yemen’ explores the effects of the conflict on their lives here, in the light of the UK’s support of the Coalition Forces through arms trades. Dan shot a series of portraits of them and their families, which we include, with their consent, in the exhibition.

The Aden Then & Now exhibition will be on at the Parkside Gallery from November 5 – November 26th. We won’t be organising an in-person launch event because of the rising COVID-19 numbers in Birmingham, but please do drop by, and let us know what you think!


This exhibition is organised by researchers based at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, (Birmingham City University) as part of the Voices of War & Peace project (University of Birmingham) – with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It first launched in February 2020 at the GAP exhibition space, at the Old Print Works in Balsall Heath.

Partners include:

The Yemeni Archive
Darkroom Birmingham
Wild Ilk Design Studio

For more details and/or any feedback on the exhibition, please email Dima Saber on dima.saber@bcu.ac.uk