Talk by RGS member Alex Haslam and UK photographer Ben Robinson: Travelling around Ukraine




Thursday, 16 July 2015, 19.00


Ukrainian Institute, 79 Holland Park, London


Free, but registration is required. Please fill in this ONLINE FORM – http://goo.gl/forms/lNWKfbcS4i

The talk will be in English, accompanied by photo slides.



18.30 – doors open
19.00 – Introduction remarks (very short, 5 mins max)
19.05 – Presentation by Alex Haslam ‘Travelling around Ukraine on the way from Hong Kong to London’
19.35 – Presentation by Ben Robinson ‘Still Displaced: Images and conversations from Eastern Ukraine’
20.00 – Q&A
20.30 – Reception


More about presentations and speakers

Alex Haslam: Traveling around Ukraine on the way from Hong Kong to London


In March 2014, Alexander set off from Hong Kong’s Hung Hom train station bound for Beijing and beyond, ultimately, to London.  Traveling by train across the heart of continental Asia, Alexander traveled on the Trans-Mongolian Express from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar and on to Irkutsk, spending time in Siberia around Lake Baikal before picking up the Trans-Siberian Express bound for Moscow.

As a result of a mix up with his visa, Alexander was forced to abandon his original plan of traveling from Moscow to Berlin via Minsk, Belarus and instead travel south via Ukraine; spending time in Kiev at the very moment armed separatists stormed police compoundmaidans in Donetsk and reignited the then simmering Ukrainian conflict by claiming Eastern-Ukraine as part of Russia. Introduced to a local broadcaster in Kiev, Alexander was able to access the symbolic heart of Ukraine’s struggles: the Maidan Square. With the aid of his companion, Alexander spoke to and photographed many of the protesters who were permanently living in the heart of Maidan.

During his talk, accompanied by the photographs of his journey, Alexander will focus on his experiences crossing through Eastern Ukraine and, while in Kiev, documenting the aspirations of the people he spoke to in the Maidan Square; memorializing their unique perspectives as to what Ukraine’s struggles symbolize, drawing parallels to Hong Kong and its own recent protests. He will also touch upon his 12,000 km trip across the heartland of Asia to Europe and beyond to the United Kingdom.maidan3

Quote from the speaker:

Ukraine finds itself at the epicentre of world politics.  It is caught in a bitter struggle for its national identity. Political power rests on influence and control as strongmen and blood (both inside and outside its borders) set Ukraine’s political agenda and define the country today.  Yet despite these life and death struggles, the people remain optimistic about the future and continue to show kindness and hospitality to those who travel within its borders.  It was the highlight of my journey across continental Euro-Asia and is a country I would love to go back and discover more about its people and its geography.


About the speaker

Alexander Haslam lives and works in Hong Kong as a lawyer. He read Classics at Manchester University before training to be a lawyer; working in London for a number of years, moving to Hong Kong in 2008 where he has remained ever since. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London, Alexander has been a passionate traveler since his teenage years, journeying variously through Central America, Eastern Europe, Siberia, the Levant and the Middle East, across littoral North Africa, sharing a cold drink with Saif Gaddafi, second son of Mummar Gaddafi in the Jebel Acacus Mountains in Southern Libya along the way.


Ben Robinson: “Still Displaced”: Images and conversations from Eastern Ukraine, 2015

In May 2015, Ben travelled to Zaporozhye, Berdyansk and Mariupol in south-eastern Ukraine, as well as number of smaller villages that have been affected by the recent fighting. The purpose of the visit was to document what’s happening, and to help counter disinformation that is prevalent in the media.


Through photography and conversations, Ben’s goal is to capture the stories of people who have left their homes as well as those who have chosen to stay. During the presentation at the Ukrainian Institute, a collection of images and a selection of stories from this recent visit will be shared.

From the beginning of the Maidan protests through to the present, Ben has been active in helping tell the stories of ordinary people and how they’ve been impacted by the conflict. A photo essay “Displaced” was produced and exhibited in 2014.

Quote from the speaker:BRPhoto_Displaced2015-2-300x200

“I wanted to capture something of the space that follows the events, the stories between the lines. In my journey to several camps and facilities working with internally displaced people (IDPs) I’ve heard and seen glimpses of this war up close: and amidst the suffering, an incredible mosaic of Ukrainians’ generosity of spirit and practical, tireless help. Churches, NGOs, and social media groups helping meet the needs of friends and strangers alike. All around lingers evidence of the banality of war. Through the debris and confusion, the absurdity of the mundane still drifts through the surreal scene.”

In addition to documentary photography and writing, Ben enjoys close collaboration with Okean Elzy through their 20th Anniversary Tour of 2014/15, having the opportunity to photograph the group at a variety of venues.

About the speaker


Ben Robinson is a photographer, living back in Oxford since 2011. After reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, Ben went to Ukraine to work and study in 1995 for 2 years… and stayed more than 15 working with the Centre for Leadership Development and Kiev Business School.