An Initiative by Lloyd’s Register Foundation

As the calendar marks not only International Maritime Day on September 28th but also London International Shipping Week, it’s the perfect moment to spotlight a transformative project: SHE_SEES. Orchestrated by Emilie Sandy, a portrait photographer, and Erna Janine, a textile artist, this endeavour offers a fresh narrative style that fuses textiles with portrait photography.

Women at the Forefront

The project features 21 extraordinary women from the UK’s maritime sector, including Jess Clay, who is part of our Classic Sailing team. Jess with Hannah Hurford produce the Off Watch Podcast. Th women in the project are more than just the focus of the lens; they actively contribute to the storytelling. Their personal journeys, aspirations, and collective wisdom shape the final artistic pieces, which span photographs, textile creations, and even moving images.

Locality and Identity

One of the standout aspects of SHE_SEES is its collaborative spirit. Each photograph is deliberately set in a location chosen by the women themselves, adding an extra layer of meaning and personal connection to the art. This approach not only elevates their voices but also highlights their individual ties to the maritime world.

Questioning the Norm

SHE_SEES does more than just showcase women in maritime; it challenges long-standing stereotypes and roles within the industry. The project acts as a springboard for wider discussions, ensuring that the narratives and messages it conveys remain vibrant and relevant.

The Textile Tale

The textile elements in SHE_SEES are as diverse and intricate as the women it honours. These are handwoven from natural materials such as flax from Flaxland in Gloucestershire, hemp from Contemporary Hempery in Suffolk, and hand-spun jute from a tribal community in Odisha, India.

Weaving History into the Fabric

The textiles are not merely ornamental; they carry the weight of maritime history. They draw inspiration from various historical sources, including rope-walking records from Chatham Dockyard Ropery and sail fragments from the HMS Terror housed in the Greenwich Maritime Museum. All of this is woven by Erna Janine on a Japanese Saori loom in her Stroud-based studio.

Beyond the Obvious

In addition to the functional aspects, the textile art incorporates abstract designs that capture the essence of the sea—its waves, tides, and shipping lanes. These artistic elements serve as a rich backdrop, adding layers of complexity to the overall project.

As International Shipping Week and International Maritime Day approach, SHE_SEES provides a refreshing lens through which to view the maritime industry. It celebrates women as active shapers of this fascinating world. So, as we unfurl the sails, let’s steer towards a maritime future that is as inclusive as it is diverse.

Hannah Hurford and Jess Clay of the Off Watch Podcast
Hannah Hurford and Jess Clay of the Off Watch Podcast

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