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Wash Basin with Rag 7 crop.

Reflections from the Mountains of Heaven, Kyrgyzstan

When the gods created earth they landed first in the mountains

between China and Kyrgyzstan.

They called them ‘Ti’en Shan’ - Mountains of Heaven.

Baikzakh Village in the foothills of the T’ien Shan Mountains in Naryn Province, Kyrgyzstan is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

These photographs were taken over 6 days in May 2016,  fitted around consultancy work to facilitate a participatory workshop on empowerment and gender with women and a few men from different rural areas of Kyrgyzstan  They are very much an outsider view of things I noticed and chose to record - only a snapshot of life at particular times of day - dawn, midday and evening time - and one of the kindest times of year - late Spring.

Although they do not constitute an in-depth ‘photo-documentary’, I saw more than most tourists would see and my contextual information on peoples’ perspectives from the workshop is more in-depth than most outsiders would have. Some of the images gained new meanings in the light of the political turmoils in Kyrgyzstan in 2019, increasing urgency to address climate change, and potential implications of the recent events in Afghanistan.

Discussions with audiences in Kyrgyzstan were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic that swept across the country in waves. The photographs are only the beginning of a dialogue with potential audiences in Kyrgyzstan, UK and elsewhere on what the images could usefully represent as part of creative documentary of Kyrgyzstan, and reflection on underlying philosophies and politics of life in a globalised world.

For more about T'ien Shan see :  Encyclopedia Britannica: Tien Shan

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