In 1993, South African photographer Gideon Mendel spent almost a month documenting the lives of young gay men on the Broderip, the first London hospital ward for HIV and Aids patients. It was opened by Princess Diana at London Middlesex Hospital in 1986, which has since closed, save for the Fitzrovia Chapel on Pearson Square.
Mendel’s moving black and white shots of the Broderip and Charles Bell wards capture quiet, vulnerable moments between these men and their loved ones, and the tender scenes of compassion shown by dedicated nurses. These were taken at a time when Aids was heavily stigmatised in the British media, to the point where many people refused to enter the wards. Elsewhere, the experience of these patients was dehumanised, reduced to fear-mongering images and misinformation.
The photographs follow the experiences of four people: John, Steven, Ian and Andre, who bravely agreed to let Mendel document their illness. All sadly passed away the year after these images were taken.
In the lead up to World Aids Day on December 1, Mendel’s photographs will be on display inside the Fitzrovia Chapel. An accompanying photo book by Trolley Books will feature stories, comments and tributes to those involved.
See the free exhibition at Fitzrovia Chapel until Sunday December 3.
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