So I hadn’t done any underwater shoots on a while, but had 2 underwater shoots in the last few months with photographer Vanessa Mills for her course at Cambridge School of Art. It was great to get modelling back in the water, even though I was reminded of all the tough challenges it brings; super sore eyes if it’s very chlorinated, how to get the right buoyancy, keeping calm to stay under for longer, and how it can be pretty exhausting. But all through my life, my own art and imagination, I’ve felt a strong allure to water, and being under the surface, so it’s a dream come true to get any opportunity to work in that environment.
These pictures are from our second shoot together, and her theme was based around witchcraft and how in parts of Europe in medieval times women accused of this were drowned.
We were aiming to work through the emotional battles that might arise from being trapped within a dark practise like this, and that with those persecuted, whether ‘wrongfully’ or not; the notion that everyone may have their own ‘inner witch’ when faced with adversity.
Vanessa wanted to work with ideas of fear, shame, victimisation, but also defiance, strength and courage, commenting on the survival, adaptability and resilience of women in hostile environments. The symbolism of the restrictive and liberating nature of water, helping to convey both freedom and repression.
I think the results are so emotive and interesting; the possessed and erratic, nightmarish feel created with the blurred movment, the convulsing transformations that almost rip me in two, and the surreal, stop motion calm in some. I found the brief so inspiring to get into and really thought-provoking, and I’m sure people will see different things in the images.