The contemporary component of SHE_SEES is led by portrait photographer Emilie Sandy and textile artist Erna Janine. Theirs is a fresh conceptual and visual approach –– ‘Storytelling Through Textiles and Portrait Photography’.
This series introduces twenty-one professional women working within a range of maritime roles in the UK. As co-participants, their stories, visions, and collective experiences inform the creative outcome through photographs, textiles, and moving image.
Creative storytelling offers a collaborative approach between the artists and their subjects: each image is embedded at a location chosen by the women, emphasising their own sense of place.
The overall style of the series was pre-determined with a bespoke ‘hyper-real’ lighting style in order to encapsulate the women in their environments –– specifically with the aim to spotlight and empower the women, as well as to enhance nature’s outstanding backdrops. The point of view offers a connected stance, enabling the viewer a glimpse into the women’s maritime roles.
The artists’ and the women’s collaborative approach supports the representation of truths in the maritime industry. The photography, and creation and placement of the cloth call attention to - and challenge - typical archetypal roles that continue. It presents opportunity to push on - and expand - the conversation; maintaining and striving to keep the message, and stories, alive.
The textile component of SHE_SEES has been handwoven using traditional natural fibres: Flaxland in Gloucestershire grew the flax fibres; Contemporary Hempery in Suffolk provided the hemp; and a tribal village in Odisha, India, supplied hand spun jute for this project.
Each textile component has been created individually to support a creative element within each photograph, with a number of historical references forming the basis for the textile work: Chatham Dockyard Ropery records on rope-walking; Greenwich Maritime Museum sail fragments of the HMS Terror; wool sail construction research in Kassia St. Clair’s The Golden Thread (published 2019), along with a number of anonymous photographical depictions of historical maritime wear.
As well as practical referential ‘pieces’, a number of textural works were created as background/metaphorical material –– referring to waves, shipping lanes, tides, day/night time, ripples, flow, load lines etc. All textile work is handwoven by Erna Janine on a Japanese Saori loom at her studio in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
For the historical component of SHE_SEES, Erna Janine created two large woven panels which encapsulate photos printed on fabric by weaving the images into a textile layer - a historical reference to tapestry weaving as a visual aid to storytelling.
The project was showcased during London International Shipping Week (LISW) 2023 alongside other research projects led by reputable organisations and individuals linked with the maritime industry.
For any international participation enquiries, please contact Emilie Sandy directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Emilie Sandy Photography, 2023