Return to Kurdistan

An illustrated talk by Richard Wilding, Creative Director, Gulan

Committee Room 5, Houses of Parliament
11th September 2019

Hosted by Sandy Martin MP

In his illustrated talk Return to Kurdistan, Richard Wilding explores the history and culture of Iraqi Kurdistan and Northern Iraq, revealing its ancient archaeology, religious and ethnic diversity, history of persecution and renewal, and the crisis caused by the emergence of DAESH (ISIS) since 2014. Richard shows his contemporary photography alongside historical photographs taken by Anthony Kersting in 1944-46, now held in the Courtauld Institute of Art’s Conway Library. He also shows photographs taken by Gertrude Bell in 1909-11, now held by the University of Newcastle.

Richard’s subjects include Erbil citadel (ancient Arbela), which claims to be the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city and Assyrian rock reliefs at Khinnis and Maltai. He shows the canals and aqueducts built in 690 BC by King Sennacherib to take water to his gardens in Nineveh, possibly the real location of the fabled ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’.

Richard explores the various ethnic and religious groups that have inhabited the region, including Kurds, Arabs, Yazidis, Assyrian Christians and Jews. He also documents the legacy of Saddam Hussein’s brutal suppression of the Kurds, the recent refugee crisis in the region and heroic efforts to save heritage threatened by DAESH.