Nepal has a magnetic effect on travellers, on the soul. Here, culture runs as deep as the waters that feed the Kalapani. In the shadows of snow-capped peaks, bearded, painted sadhus sit like living statues, the wandering holy men as ubiquitous as the pagodas that house thousands of years of spiritual enlightenment. In the hills, families live in cold, spartan surroundings. In cities, they live in poetic congestion. This land-locked nation is at once impoverished and rich with heritage.
The earthquake in April ripped the country at its seams, rattling the world in its aftermath. It claimed more than human life: it took holy sites, mountainsides, and entire villages, sparing certain places death, but not destruction. Within hours, the very fabric of this vibrant society had been reduced to dust and debris.
Rising British photographer Kristopher Ellis Brown spent two-and-a-half months in Nepal, travelling the country before, during, and after the quake. “I was in Pokhara when it happened, in a café on the second floor,” he recalls. “At first, I thought it was a truck going past. The waiter said ‘don’t worry,’ but then the building began to shake very hard and he told us all to leave immediately. People ran out screaming. Rubble fell from the ceiling and cracks crept up the walls… but, being in Pokhara, no one realised the devastation [that occurred]outside the town.”
The photographer later visited Angel’s Orphanage, a charity effort that cares for orphaned and abandoned children, a population that fell into dire despair as soon as the true damage from the quake became apparent. The orphanage remains an inspiration to Brown, strengthening his connection with Nepal following the tragedy.
This series of visceral black-and-white shots, taken with an Olympus OM-2 during Brown’s travels and later developed in Bangkok, reveal the haunting truths of life in Nepal. They were part of the Colors of Nepal exhibition, which was held at Cho Why in late June and helped raise money for Save the Children Nepal; twenty per cent of proceeds from art purchased during the event were donated to the foundation.
For more information on Save the Children Nepal and Angel’s Orphanage, log on to nepal.savethechildren.net and angelsorphanage.com, respectively. To view more of Brown’s work and to inquire about purchases, visit facebook.com/kristopherbrownphotography.