Exhibition captures the heartache behind gun and knife crime

Vanessa Hyman visits the scene of her son’s murder for the first time for a photography project

AN EMOTIONAL mother whose son was killed in a brutal unsolved murder gazes pensively into the distance as she lays flowers at the foot of the river where he died in 2004.

This poignant image is one of six photographs on display in a moving new exhibition, Famous for the Wrong Reasons, portraying families who have been victims of violent crime.

Vanessa Hyman, who visited the spot where her son Anton was shot, and his body dumped in the River Brent, for the first time for the photo shoot, said appearing in the project was an ‘incredibly moving experience’.

She said: “I had to gear myself up to do it, but we went and it was incredibly moving.

“I look at the picture and I can look into my eyes and it is almost as if I’m not that person. It is really weird looking at myself and seeing how I looked on that day.

“It is very quiet and still – it is as if my mind is somewhere else and my face tells the story.”

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The image captures the first time Vanessa had revisited the scene of Anton’s death – seven years after she was told on Mother’s Day that his lifeless body had been found.

She said: “It is not a place I like to go because it makes me start asking questions I can’t answer.

“I wouldn’t say it was therapeutic, but I wasn’t overcome with grief either. I think because Anton is not there, he is in a different place now, I try to dislodge myself from that place, but ultimately I do know that was where Anton took his last breath.”

Created by Sal Idriss, whose own brother Nassirudeen was knifed to death just days before his 17th birthday in an unprovoked attack in 2007, the exhibition captures the raw emotion which still haunts the families of those lost to violent crime.

Mr Idriss said the exhibition was born out of his ‘discovery’ of other families who had fallen victim to violent crime, and his desire to give them a voice.

“Along the journey I discovered all these other families who were affected but hadn’t been given much of a voice.

“Most of the families I have worked with have gone through a few steps in their grieving process. They have the strength to go along with the project.

“I want the exhibition to bring these stories out in the open, and send a message to the community that if you don’t help anybody by protecting those who have done wrong.

He added: “Any family could be affected by this. These deaths are not about black on black crime – my brother was killed by a Turkish lad – this could happen to anyone.”

The exhibition, Famous for the Wrong Reasons, runs at the Broadway theatre in from January 6 until March 31.

Anton, from Acton, was killed in March in 2004. His killers have never been caught. Anyone with information should call the Incident Room on 0208 785 8244; or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.