The photographer, who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan, on how he came to make his documentary series in which he cooks with families in countries ruined by war
When Giles Duley looks back on the past 11 years, the worst of times, he suggests, wasn’t the moment that he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan while on assignment photographing a US regiment at war. It wasn’t even the 45 days he spent in the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, undergoing countless operations, initially learning to communicate by blinking his eye while coming to terms with the fact that he had lost both his legs and one of his arms. It wasn’t the year of rehabilitation when, having been told he would never walk again, he walked again. The worst of times were the months, having been released from hospital, when he was sitting alone in a bedsit in Clapham, south London, waiting for the phone to ring.
“I lost everything when I got injured,” Duley, says. “I got no payouts. I just had this horrible a bare room with a bed and a chair and a little oven. I couldn’t get my wheelchair in there, it was so small. I was in a really desperate state. In hospital you live by goals: first survive, next learn to walk, next achieve independence. And then, there you are.”