Bloodhound is a visual documentation of the psychological decompression British troops returning from war undergo, before they go back home to their loved ones, and to normality. Forever changed by their experiences on the front line, soldiers are given a brief moment in time where they stand in abeyance, before responsibilities resume upon their return to the UK.
Functioning from 2007-2014, Bloodhound Decompression Camp was part of the UK’s Ministry of Defence’s efforts to reduce the rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in veterans, by providing a safe and welcoming environment where soldiers returning from war can spend some time outside the theatre of operations, but away from the responsibilities of home, to relax, unwind, and discuss their frontier experiences with their colleagues. Despite such facilities and services being made available, studies show that even in 2017/18, 4 out of 5 UK Armed Forces personnel were assessed with having a mental disorder.
Exploring the themes of identity and home, and more broadly war and peace, Bloodhound offers an intimate glimpse into the journey of self-discovery and self-reflection that troops go through when they find themselves in an in-between space, a place away from the conflict of battle, but also a place they cannot call home.
Bloodhound can be seen as the eye of the storm: a momentary ‘in-limbo’ experience of stillness and tranquility in a world where ‘war [is] the norm and peace the exception’.
'Bloodhound' photobook available for purchase upon request.

“[T]he key about this whole experience is that nothing is enforced, there is no timescale to do it, you can just do as little or as much as feels comfortable to you.” 

 View - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014

“…before they are allowed home, every soldier, sailor and airman has to go through a 24-36 hour layover in Cyprus known as Decompression.” 

The decompression process begins once the aeroplane filled with troops fresh from the frontline lands in Akrotiri Air Base in Cyprus. The carefully scheduled program that awaits the decompressees depends on their time of arrival, and on how many hours they will remain there before they get on a return flight home.

 Information Room - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

"A substantial survey of more than 11 000 troops who had just completed the decompression process, carried out in 2008, found that while the majority had been ambivalent or reluctant to engage in [decompression] before they arrived, approximately 90 per cent of troops reported finding their time in Cyprus to have been helpful.” 

 Solider - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

The visit to Cyprus for decompression is not complete without a trip to Tunnel Beach. The Mediterranean weather allows for trips to the beach to occur throughout the year, guaranteeing decompressees a day in the sun even if they pass through Bloodhound during the winter season.

 Tunnel Beach - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

 “We were tucked up in bed long before bed time, after a process which may not cure the most deeply affected by a tour in Afghanistan, but one which will undoubtedly make most of us a lot more palatable a proposition for our loved ones back home when we barge back in on their lives after six, eight or even twelve months away.”

Dining Room - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

Recreation Suite - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

Bloodhound Camp offers a variety of services and amenities to the troops passing through, ensuring a smooth and comfortable decompression process. Included in those is the so called ‘Jingly Shop’ – a corner shop filled with items that one might need when spending 24 hours relaxing in sunny Cyprus; tanning oil, after sun, cigarettes, chocolates, and souvenirs to name a few. 

The 'Jingly' Shop - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

Bearing in mind that the troops have not touched alcohol for six months, its consumption is strictly controlled. Each decompresse is allowed a maximum of 4 drinks, for which they buy tokens. This allows them to unwind while sharing a drink with colleagues, and simultaneously enables the smooth running of the night time entertainment and decompression process as drunken antics are kept to a minimum.

TheBar - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

Departure is perhaps the happiest part of decompression. Time to return home. While decompressees step back into their clean and pressed uniform, and prepare for their flight home, the Bloodhound staff have already started preparations for the next lot of troops who will be arriving on the incoming flight. There is a noticeable difference in the attitude of troops coming in, compared to those leaving.

Postcards - Bloodhound Camp, Cyprus 2014.

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