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Exhibition of photographs at the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery explore war and entertainment
Avro Lancaster Bomber, Eastbourne, Sussex 15 August, 2009.

COUNTY DURHAM.- A new exhibition of photographs aims to explore the uneasy relationship between entertainment and the military – from seaside air shows to international arms fairs.

The Home Front, at the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery, features three related series of pictures by photographer Melanie Friend.

Made over a four-year period, the exhibition considers the civilian experience of war and conflict as a spectacle.

The first set shows children and holidaymakers at British seaside resorts as they are disrupted by the roar of fighter jets taking part in public air shows. Lancaster bombers evoke the crowds’ Second World War nostalgia while contemporary planes such as the Tornado, recently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, are also showcased.

The second series reveals the on-ground attractions of air shows held at Royal Air Force bases and private airfields. Billed as a fun day out for the family, these events often include opportunities for military recruitment and the commemoration of past conflicts.

In the final series of images, Friend offers a rare glimpse of international arms fairs and air show trade days, usually off limits to the general public.

In her early career, Friend worked as a photojournalist for a wide range of magazines and newspapers including the Guardian and the Times Educational Supplement. She also took photographs for the anti-nuclear movement and contributed features for BBC Radio Four and the BBC World Service.

Her work has been shown at museums and galleries including Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto, Belfast Exposed Photography, the Hasselbad Centre in Sweden and the Houston Centre for Photography in the United States.

Her work is also held in the public collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London and she has lectured at the universities of Oxford, Harvard, Paris and Berne.

She is currently senior lecturer in photography at the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex.

The Home Front, at the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery until Sunday, 21 September, is an Impressions Gallery touring exhibition curated by Pippa Oldfield.

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