JOHN WALMSLEY

ABOUT

 
Earthquake damage, Leninakan, Arme
 
Beggar in a Moscow street, 1990 
Photography 

"This was taken in Leninakan (now Gyumri), Armenia.  At 11.41am on the 7th December 1988, Armenia was devastated by an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale.  It is thought a minimum of 30,000 people died.  The epicentre was near Spitak (pop. 30,000) which was almost totally destroyed.  Not far away was Leninakan (pop. 240,000) where 70% of all buildings were left either collapsed or unsafe.  31 of the 37 schools were destroyed.  The British Government paid for, and British companies built and equipped, a new school, The Lord Byron School, to replace one which had taught in English. 

 

Because of my interest in education and had been a part-time lecturer at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, I was sent to photograph it.  These were the dying days of the soviet empire and, to reach Armenia, you had to go through Moscow.  While waiting for the connecting flight, I walked around and came upon  this woman begging in the market." - John Walmsley