Richard Wilding

Richard Wilding is a London-based photographer and filmmaker specialising in the documentation of cultural identity, heritage, archaeology and costume in the Middle East. He is currently working on long-term projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Wilding’s photography has been exhibited at the Houses of Parliament, Courtauld Institute of Art and University of Exeter in the UK and in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. He has coordinated exhibitions of historical photography in Jeddah and Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

Wilding has given public talks at Asia House, Leighton House Museum and the Ismaili Centre, London. He has given lectures for the Reconciliation and Peacebuilding programme at the University of Winchester, for the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading, for the Sackler Research Forum at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and at the University of Exeter’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

Since 2012, Richard Wilding has been Creative Director of Gulan, a UK registered charity which promotes the culture of Kurdistan. He is a trustee of the Mansoojat Foundation, a charity formed to collect and document the traditional costumes of Saudi Arabia.

Wilding is currently working with the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation in Cairo on a pioneering project to film the conservation of medieval minbars in Cairo, using modern 3D printing technology to replicate fragments dispersed in museum collections and reinstate them in their original locations.

Saudi Arabia

Richard produced a film about the Mansoojat collection of Arabian costumes, which was shown in 2006 at the V&A Museum, London. Between 2010 and 2018 he has undertaken extensive photography trips through Saudi Arabia documenting the traditional culture, archaeology and costume.

In 2012, Richard organized a costumes display with Mansoojat in the Great Court at The British Museum to coincide with the exhibition Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam. In Spring 2014, he co-ordinated two exhibitions in Madinah, consisting of Word, an exhibition of calligraphy works from the British Museum, London and Illumination, the first major photography exhibition staged in Saudi Arabia.

Richard is now a trustee of the Mansoojat Foundation and is currently completing a book with Mansoojat about the costumes and heritage of Saudi Arabia.

Iraqi Kurdistan

Since 2012, Richard Wilding has been Creative Director of Gulan, a UK registered charity which promotes the culture of Kurdistan. He has travelled extensively through Iraqi Kurdistan, documenting the region’s archaeology, ethnic and religious diversity, history of persecution and renewal, and the crisis resulting from the emergence of ISIS in 2014.

In collaboration with Gulan’s Artistic Director Della Murad, Richard designed for the Kurdistan Regional Government the national badge for the remembrance of the victims of the Kurdish Genocide under Saddam Hussein. This was first used on 16th March 2013 at official events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the chemical weapons attack on Halabja.

In October 2013, Richard was awarded an outreach grant by The British Institute for the Study of Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial) towards his photography of the Erbil citadel, possibly the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world.

Richard’s connections with the Courtauld Institute of Art in London led to the discovery in the Courtauld’s Conway library of Anthony Kersting’s photographs of Kurdistan and Northern Iraq taken in 1944 – 1946. These have been exhibited by Gulan at the Royal Geographical Society and the British Academy, London.

Richard Wilding’s exhibition Return to Kurdistan shows Iraqi Kurdistan and Northern Iraq in his contemporary photography alongside Anthony Kersting’s historical photographs. In 2016, Return to Kurdistan was exhibited by Gulan in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and in 2017 at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and University of Exeter. In October 2017, Return to Kurdistan was exhibited in the Houses of Parliament, London by Gulan and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.