Two Years Since the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, Ed’s Photography Draws Connection

Photography for Political Change. Patricie Sperkova reviews ‘Protect’, a new exhibition by York photojournalist Ed Matthews for SCENE.

(Image: Ed Matthews)

Marking the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, York photojournalist Ed Matthews hosted a new exhibition titled ‘Protect’ for the weekend. 

The exhibition, as explained by Ed in an interview with BBC, aims to serve as a reminder that the conflict is ongoing.

‘It horrifies me that the world is going backwards and I can’t make a difference, but together we can, so the main thing is raising awareness and education and telling the truth.’

‘Textures of War’
(Image: Ed Matthews)

Transforming the SPARK’s workspace into a temporary exhibition room, the display featured photographs lining the walls, war artefacts arranged in the centre, and a projector in the corner showcasing Ed’s short film Protect Ukraine

Created in six days, the film compiles live testimonies of individuals from Ukraine who fled to the UK. The stories depicted the emotional impact on the people: ‘Every minute felt much longer than it really was.’ 

Ed’s photography delves into various layers of facing the devastation of invasion and war. From capturing the raw brutality of war, exploring ‘Textures of War,’ to introducing Ukrainian culture, such as a family reuniting over Borsch. 

Testimony’ shows how Ivan survived 28 days in captivity in a basement with 300 other people in Yahidne.
(Image: Ed Matthews)

Rather than being a detached observer, Ed’s photography draws connection. Having volunteered in Ukraine and Poland, he gained a deeper understanding of the needs of the people, enabling him to capture something more authentic.

After years as a photographer in the nightclub industry, Ed decided to use his skills to create meaningful work. For example, he collaborated with local, smaller charities aiming to raise funds and began photographing for them.

The exhibition offered a space for visitors to pause, absorb people’s stories, and consider how they too can actively contribute to change.