THE F WORD: images of forgiveness

forgiveness project

An exhibition of words and photographs

VENUE : St Columba’s Church of Scotland
ADDRESS: Pont Street, Knighstbridge, London, SW1X 0BD
DATES : Tuesday 31 March until Easter Sunday April 5

31 March – 2 April 10am-8pm,
3 April 10am-5pm, 4 April 10am-6pm, Easter Sunday 10am-2pm

“If you focus only on retribution, you extinguish the very spirit and memory of your child” Francis Climbie, father of Victoria.

A powerful photographic exhibition exploring the idea of forgiveness in the face of atrocity and telling the stories of victims as well as perpetrators, opens at St Columba’s Church, Pont Street SW1 on Tuesday 31 March.

THE F WORD: images of forgiveness is the brainchild of journalist Marina Cantacuzino and photographer Brian Moody who in January 2004, tired of a climate where revenge and retaliation dominated the headlines, resolved to present the public with an alternative view.

Travelling to places including the United States, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Romania, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, as well as the UK, they collected the stories of 26 people whose lives had been shattered by violence, tragedy and injustice – and who had chosen to take the challenging and often painful journey towards forgiveness.

The exhibition’s subjects include Berth and Francis Climbié, parents of seven year old Victoria Climbié who was abused and murdered by her aunt; Marian Partington, whose sister was murdered by Frederick and Rosemary West; Pat Magee, the man behind the IRA Brighton bomb and Jo Berry, whose father was killed in the blast; Linda Biehl, whose daughter was killed in South Africa and now works alongside her daughter’s killers; and Andrew Rice, whose brother David was killed in the World Trade Center bombing.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who himself features in the exhibition and is a patron of The Forgiveness Project, describes forgiveness as a journey out of victimhood.  “Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. It means taking what has happened seriously and not minimising it; drawing out the sting in the memory that threatens to poison our entire existence. In these forgiveness stories there is real healing.”

The late Dame Anita Roddick, who sponsored the exhibition, has described the exhibition as “truly an education in the human spirit”.  She once said: “Tit-for-Tat killings and pay-back politics are all we hear about these days. That’s why I think it’s so terribly important to give a platform to those who have gone the other way – people who have turned revenge on its head and tried to forgive.  An exhibition like this needs to be seen, and to be seen it needs support.”

The exhibition is produced by The Forgiveness Project, a non-partisan, non-religious charitable organisation working at local, national and international level to help build a  future free of conflict and violence by healing the wounds of the past.

By collecting and sharing people’s stories, and delivering outreach programmes, The Forgiveness Project encourages and empowers people to explore the nature of forgiveness and alternatives to revenge. Many of those whose voices are celebrated in The F Word and on this website, also share their stories in person. The Forgiveness Project works in prisons, schools, faith communities, and with any group who want to explore the nature of
forgiveness whether in the wider political context or within their own lives.

Its patrons include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actress Emma Thompson, BBC broadcaster Simon Fanshawe, Britain’s former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, as well as Jilly Forster of The Forster Company who was instrumental in setting up The Forgiveness Project. Amongst its supporters are Helen Mirren, Tony Benn, Katharine Hamnett, Terry Waite and Annie Lennox.

Contact at St Columba’s Church – Mrs Susan Pym