Beyond the Trenches (1936-1939). Photographs by Alec Wainman

Open June 21 – November 3

In July 1936, Alec Wainman was a young man of 23 full of ideals, a pacifist, a Quaker and apolitical. Distraught by the situation developing in Spain, where the Nationalists had risen up against the Spanish Republic, he signed up as a volunteer with the British Medical Unit (BMU), a step that marked the start of a two-year, life-defining journey. He arrived on 31 August in the Spanish Republic to support the people who symbolised hope for the world due to their resistance to the fascist military coup. With him he had his trusted companion, his Leica camera, which bore witness to those people and their experiences. A gifted linguist, he soon learned to speak fluent Spanish, Catalan and Basque, a skill that was not only useful but also bonded him with these peoples.

As in the case of Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour’s Mexican Suitcase and Agustí Centelles’ ‘French Suitcase’, Alec Wainman’s ‘English Suitcase’ is also a tale of a lost suitcase.

Eighty years after the International Brigades’ withdrawal and the end of the war, this exhibition aims to commemorate the civilians and volunteers who came from all over the world to fight for the Republic before they fade from our collective memory. The photographs, the result of a 40-year-long quest to recover 1,650 lost negatives of that period, reveal and illustrate their stories.

Explore the exhibition areas

Worldwide solidarity during the Civil War

Land and people

Education and reading

Barcelona: a revolutionary epicentre

Recursos externs