Imperial War Museum North - Loved Ones Taken By The Gun

By Kerry Patterson | 05 November 2004
Shows a black and white photograph of a woman. Just her face and hair is shown and she has a concerned, almost wearied expression.

Pat Reagan Mother of Danny, killed in St Helens December 2001. Mothers Against Violence: Taken by the Gun. Paula Keenan.

Kerry Patterson made her way to Salford to take in a powerful and emotive exhibition.

It is a disturbing fact of life in modern Britain that gun violence is on the increase.

On display at Imperial War Museum North until January 16 2005, Taken by the Gun: Photographs by Paula Keenan explores this growing problem.

The exhibition has been developed in collaboration with members of the group Mothers Against Violence, which was formed in Manchester by Patsy McKie, following the death of her son in a gun-related crime.

The aim of the group is to provide support for families affected by gun crime and to raise awareness of the problem through work carried out in the community, such as talks given in schools and prisons.

Shows a black and white photograph of a woman's face. Her hair is covered by a tightly fitting hat and she has a world-weary expression on her face.

"People are killing people everywhere, we really need to take stock of that," Patsy Mckie. Mother of Dorrie McKie, killed in Hulme August 1999. Mothers Against Violence: Taken by the Gun. Paula Keenan.

They’ve also worked with the Government in an effort to affect laws at the highest level.

Paula Keenan has concentrated on personal stories and individual voices in her investigation of the way in which lives can be absolutely shattered by gun crime.

The exhibition is a relatively small one, consisting of 15 black and white photographs and a video.

However, the simply composed photographs are powerful and dignified, each one accompanied by text explaining how the various family members depicted have been affected by the loss of a loved one.

The video compliments the photographs, featuring the subjects elaborating on the quotations given with their pictures. The people depicted are not only mothers but also children, siblings, wives and girlfriends, all of whom have had their lives irreversibly changed.

Shows a black and white photograph of a woman. Just her hair, face and shoulders are shown. She is wearing glasses and appears to be in mid-speech.

Sheila Eccleston Mother of Dean, killed in Longsight October 2001. Mothers Against Violence: Taken by the Gun. Paula Keenan.

Jackie Featherstone’s son Fabien was killed in Stockport on February 23 2004. She explains that "It’s just ruined my life, it’s wrecked, totally been destroyed, ripped apart and the rest of my family."

Sheila Eccleston, whose son Dean was killed in Longsight in October 2001, recounts a conversation she once had with her son:

"My son said to me 'are you proud of me mum?' I said what do you mean proud of you? And he said, 'I rule all the men.' I said to my son Why don't you join the army? And he looked down at himself and he looked at me and he said, 'But Mum, I am a soldier.'"

The common factors which unite the subjects of all the photographs are the feelings of grief and loss, but ultimately, a sense of the lives wasted.

The most affecting quality of the exhibition is its directness. It offers a sobering experience of the effects of an all too common situation, as more cases of gun crime are reported across the country.

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