Ukraine
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On Christmas day 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed. Suddenly the ex Soviet republics started to declare independence from Moscow. I'd studied Soviet politics at college and was very keen to see the changes happening first hand. Ukraine was referred to as the bread basket of the SU and it was also its industrial heartland, though that was now referred to as a rustbelt. I contacted the independence movement and told them I'd like to visit the industrial city of Donetsk and stay with a mining family. Two weeks later i was on the plane to Kiev. The project started as one about the coal mines but soon became focused on the Slakar family I was staying with.

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Poster for my exhibition at the Photographers Gallery London.
On top of the slag heap at SalsDonetsk coal mine.
Miner having a fag after his shift underground.
Female surface worker.
Drilling underground. The conditions were so run down it was like stepping back into the 1800's.
Three miners at the end of their shift before taking a shower.
Miner having a fag after his shift underground.
Alex, a miner at the 'SalsDombas' coal mine.
Miners changing room at the 'SalsDombas' coal mine.
Miners drinking and dinning after work around at Victor and Katya's old flat.
Miners drinking and dinning after work around at Victor and Katya's old flat.
Victor and Katya having tea with friends in their new flat.
Kids playing on a building site outside the Slakars flat.
Irina Slakar, Katya's daughter, at the bakery she works in.
The end of an all day picnic, washed down with plenty of homemade vodka.
Sergej, Katya's son, diving into the artificial lake of waste water next to the SalsDombass mine.
Irina Slakar preparing her veil on her wedding day. She married Demitri, a former miner at the SalsDonbass. Donetsk, Ukraine.
Irina Slakar having breakfast on her wedding day. She is marrying Demitri, a former miner at the Socialist Donbass coal mine. Donetsk, Ukraine.
Irina Slakar and Demitri at the local Russian orthodox church on their wedding day.
Irina Slakar and Demitri having their formal wedding photograph taken after the ceremony. The brides maid and best man are to her right.
Preparing scrap for melting down at the massive steelworks in Donetsk. We needed a car to get around as it was 5km from one end to the other.
Steelworker
Christmas time in the control room at the steelworks.
Young people entertaining themselves in the corridors of the flats.
Young ballet dancers waiting off stage at the childrens cultural centre, Donetsk.
A clown and dancer waiting to go on stage at the Donetsk State circus.
Brides maid and best man at a wedding reception.
People dancing at a wedding reception.
Getting dressed after seeing on of the doctor at the central hospital.
Am ex miner being tested for respiratory disease. The harsh conditions of the mines lead to these types of illness affecting many miners.
Am ex miner being tested for respiratory disease. The harsh conditions of the mines lead to these types of illness affecting many miners.
Young cadets at the local army barracks.
Worshipers at the Russian orthodox cathedrial.
Worshipers at the Russian orthodox cathedrial.
Worshipers at the Russian orthodox cathedrial.
New Years party at Victor and Katya's flat
Irina and Demitri moved into Katya's and Victor's flat after their marriage. They re-arranged the front room into their bedroom.
Irina in hospital for the birth of her first child, Iliya. He was born by C-section.
Having their photograph taken of Iliya being handed over as they prepare to leave the hospital.
Irina and Demitri at home after the birth of Iliya.
Irina feeding Iliya during the night.
Iliya sleeping at home. Tragically Iliya only survived for two weeks and died from Meningitis, a devastating shock for his parents and family as this was their first child. They went on to have several more children.
Landscape of a disused shift at the SalsDombass mine.
The funeral of a friend of the family.
The funeral of a friend of the family.
The funeral of a friend of the family.
Petty criminal in the back of a police van.
Petty criminal signing a confession at the local police station. Detective in the background.
A christening at the local Russian Orthodox church.
Pinic laid out on a car bonnet. New Years Day 1993
Cossack carrying regional flag after a local secret cossack festival.
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