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Don McCullin unveils war sculpture in Wells
Don McCullin, Wells

A sculpture depicting the suffering children experience in the world today has been unveiled in Wells by the war photographer Don McCullin.

The piece, called Weight of Our Sins, was created by the late Josefina de Vasconcellos, a devout Christian whose faith was reflected in her work.

It shows eight children, affected in different ways, such as genocide, AIDS, landmines, homelessness and drug abuse.

The sculpture has been placed by the moatside within the Palace grounds.

Mr McCullin said: "It's very powerful and it depicts the struggle that certain children - who shouldn't at their age be - struggling for their lives, for food and protection against evil wars, famines - children have it really stacked up against them."

'Shameful life'

For Don, this work also reflects what he's seen as a photographer in war zones around the world.

"I've had a shameful life looking into the eyes of children standing there with a camera and it's not what they're expecting, standing there in awful circumstances.

"If they're injured or they're starving they want food and medical attention - they don't want someone leaning down on them, and the troubled life I've had ever since.

Every year another awful situation arises and I've only ever looked upon myself as the messenger
Don McCullin

"I show these pictures but I'm not proud of these, and I'm often concerned about whether they've achieved anything."

The sculpture came to the Bishops Palace on the recommendation of Professor Romaine Harvey, who was a friend of the late sculptor, Josefine de Vasconcellos, and wanted to find a permanent setting for the artwork.

This offer was readily accepted by the diocese.

Bishop Peter Price said: "It has an extraordinary power about it.

"She's captured both in the movement of the children and also in their faces something of the grotesque reality of the suffering of children around the world."

Don - whose work has taken him to conflicts in Cyprus, the Congo, Biafra, Vietnam, Cambodia and Iraq - still has his doubts as to how useful it is to show people suffering such hardship.

"There's no question about it, I have a lot of doubt about it," he added.

"Every year another awful situation arises and I've only ever looked upon myself as the messenger, the person who carries these awful images back to our society, where we are safe, and well-fed and well clad with heat and warmth and clothing.

"I just despair sometimes, the one example to discard my efforts was when I saw children in West Africa having their limbs chopped off by crazed men with machine guns and machetes just drugged to the eyeballs, so I'm bound to have some doubts.

"If I didn't, I can't live with myself and believe that I have eradicated all these sins, I haven't."




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