by SHOWstudio .

Nick Knight unveils new portrait of Manchester bombing survivor Bradley Hurley

Nick Knight has repeatedly engaged with and confronted violence in his work for the last 40 years. From Skinheads, to Accessable, the 14-page feature in Dazed & Confused which celebrated the beauty and power of people with disabilities, Knight is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of his subject matter. Knight includes narratives that might otherwise be on the fringe or periphery, elegantly handling issues others would be afraid to address (for more examples see Portrait of Caitin Stickels or his series on self-defence entitled Get Back, Stay Back with Lara Stone). Knight has always expressed a hatred of violence and his photographs for the Spanish publication Big in May 1997 were so graphic that the magazine had to carry a warning label.  

In other words, this is a leitmotif that has run through all of Knight's work, with many projects over the last 40 years engaging with this theme.

This latest portrait of Bradley Hurley, one of the men injured in the Manchester bombing, is as raw as it is accomplished. Whereas most coverage of the bombings depicted the attack's destructive aftermath, Knight observed the consequence of such violence, positioning his subject as a living monument to strength. There is no victimization or objectification of Bradley, no glorification of the violence. It is a raw portrait of a man who has survived the domestic war on terror. The image is the first in a series Nick Knight is undertaking on Victims of Violence.

An excerpt from Knight and Bradley's Q+A in The Metro

Can you tell me a little about the series you plan?

Nick Knight: Bradley’s image is the first in a large body of work I am creating about people who have experienced extreme violence. For example acid attacks, bomb blasts, or knife attacks. This is absolutely not a series about the causes of violence or the perpetrators but instead, I want to celebrate the people who have been attacked and their amazing strength and spirit to survive.

Why Bradley?

NK: Bradley contacted me via Instagram and when I spoke to him I was incredibly impressed and in awe of his resilience and determination to continue his life so positively despite the horrific injuries and the devastating loss he had incurred.

What impression do you expect to make on viewers with your photo of Bradley?

NK: I want people to see the strength to survive that is in all of us.

What do you see in your photo of Bradley?

NK: A brilliant and powerful symbol of the human resilience and strength.

What will be done with these images?

NK: I am creating sculptures as well as films and photographs to be exhibited in a gallery.


How did this photo shoot come about?

Bradley Hurley: I have been a huge fan of Nick’s since I discovered his work in 2009, I have studied graphic design throughout my education & have always experimented with photography and Nick’s work has always been an influence in my own work. I got in contact with Nick’s team, fully aware that it was a shot in the dark and not expecting a response. I was so excited that Nick was interested in photographing me. It is truly a dream come true. It was actually a bit of a rush to get the photos done because the photo shoot was back in September & literally only a few days before the fixations were removed and it was important for us to have the external fixation’s incorporated in the shoot! So thank you to Nick for squeezing me in during fashion week! 

Did you have any reservations?

BH: I literally had no idea what to expect, but everything was perfect. Nick & his team made me & my family feel so comfortable throughout the day & talked me through every step of the way.

What do you hope it will do?

BH: When I was doing the photoshoot, I was doing it for me. The experience & the end product. So, it’s everything I hoped & more.

What did you make of him?

BH: Nick, his wife & his team were all the loveliest people & they made our day so special, one of the best experiences of my life. I would like to thank Nick Knight & his team from the bottom of my heart for taking the time out, at the busiest time of his year (just after fashion week) to spend an entire day photographing me. Thank you for believing my story was one worth telling through your art.

Did it turn out as you expected?

BH: I really had no idea what to expect, if you’re familiar with Nick’s work, you will know there is such a wide range of different aesthetics & each photo tells a completely different story, so I knew the piece would be individual to me. The photo really embodies everything I hoped for when we started the process.

What do you think of the image?

BH: I explained to Nick that I hoped for a portrait of resilience & strength to remember this chapter of my life & I knew working with Nick we would achieve that & we really did. I think the first word you think of when you see the photograph is ‘Strong’.

Are photography or the visual arts things you would like a career in?

BH: Having two broken legs lead me to minimal mobility and for the first time in my life, art became an outlet as opposed to only an interest and made me realise how truly passionate I am about the visual arts. I created and sold a pin-badge in commemoration of my sister's life during my recovery, using the graphic design skills I had. I sold 500 pin-badges to raise money for a garden erected in my sister's memory and the experience from start to finish taught me that creating things that evoke feeling is something special that really brings people together. I had just finished my second year at Liverpool John Moores University studying Graphic Design at the time of the attack and this is definitely something I hope to pursue as a career.