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Crash Photo Show Controversial
The Sunday Herald

A shocking photographic exhibition featuring graphic reconstructions of car crashes and harrowing portraits of people who have lost loved ones in road traffic accidents is to be shown in Scotland for the first time.

The controversial exhibition When Lives Collide will be shown in Edinburgh in December. It shows the aftereffects of road crashes in an attempt to hammer home the carnage that bad driving can cause on Britain's roads.

Some 3201 people were killed in car incidents in 2005 and 28,954 suffered serious injuries.

Award-winning commercial photographer Paul Wenham-Clarke took a career break to highlight the issue after encountering a series of accidents at close hand.

He believes that media censorship of the most gruesome of car crashes means that the public do not fully appreciate the seriousness of car accidents.

"It is a bit of a taboo, " he said. "Take the Iraq war. We are quite willing to hear stories about soldiers' families but we never hear from the families of the people who nipped out to Sainsbury's and never came back.

"I do strongly feel that people will look back at this time and wonder how anybody could accept the statistics as normal life. We will view it like we view something like sending children up chimneys today." Wenham-Clarke digitally created crash scenes using eyewitness accounts from his subjects and rescue services reports. He considered taking photos of real crash scenes but opted for reconstructions to avoid accusations of a paparazzi element to the exhibition.

Among the 37 chilling photographs are a bereaved mother clutching her dead son's ponytail and a baby lying face down on the road beside the wreckage of a reconstructed car accident.

Wenham-Clarke said he had difficulties finding spaces for the exhibition, which was first shown in the Oxo Gallery in London last year. Many galleries were not interested due to the distressing nature of the photographs.

However, the exhibition was featured on Radio 4's Today programme and attracted 8000 visitors over three weeks.

Roadside rescue and recovery service Green Flag sponsored the exhibition, and its director of marketing, Hillary Williams, said: "Green Flag is all too aware of the issues When Lives Collide raises and we realise that there is a very real need to support Paul WenhamClarke's striking and challenging work which will hopefully make drivers think about their behaviour." The RoadPeace charity for bereaved and injured road crash victims introduced Wenham-Clarke to people willing to participate in the exhibition, many of whom see it as an important acknowledgement of their loss and a form of tribute to their loved ones.

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