‘SHE_SEES’: Women in Maritime 2

September 2023

In this, the second of three episodes dedicated to women in the maritime world, we look at the Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s ‘Rewriting Women into Maritime History’ project through an artistic lens. Cecilia Rose speaks to Erna Janine – a London based textile artist specialising in Japanese Freestyle Weaving, and Emilie Sandy – a photographer and visual artist focusing on portraiture and storytelling. Their new joint venture, ‘SHE_SEES’, combines the mediums of textiles and photography to tell the stories of women involved in maritime industries today. We learn about how these women came to their respective professions and how they can inspire others.

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    Emilie Sandy
    From the Society for Nautical Research in partnership with Lloyd’s Register foundation, I’m Sam Willis and this is the Mariner’s Mirror podcast, the world’s number one podcast dedicated to all of maritime history.

    Cecilia Rose
    Hi everyone. Today I’m very excited to welcome Emily Sandy and Erna Janine. Emily is a photographer and visual artist specialising in portraiture, and storytelling through conceptual projects. Janine is a hand weaver, specialising in Japanese freestyle weaving with natural fibres and creating conceptual textile based art projects. They have both recently collaborated on an exciting project called SHE_SEES, which combines photography and textiles to produce artwork on a number of women currently working in maritime history. They’re both here to discuss the project and what it’s all about.

    Cecilia Rose
    Okay, well, hello, and welcome, Emily and Janine. It’s so lovely to have you. First of all, could you tell us a bit about what you both do? And how you came together to work on this exciting project she sees from

    Emilie Sandy
    Okay, over to me, are you Yeah, so

    Erna Janine
    we could both do it. We

    can both do it. How do we come together?

    Erna Janine
    Well, we’ve we’ve known each other for some years, because we live in the same part of the country. And we’re both creatives. So we were bound to bump into each other and maybe even work together at some point. So we’ve done three projects together that we’ve developed into exhibitions. And yeah, it seems to have been so that we found an exciting new way to delve into the theme of storytelling. And that’s really what we’re all about.

    Emilie Sandy
    Yeah, so through I’m a photographer. Janine is an exciting, extraordinary weaver. Excellent weaver. And that’s how we met through our creativity. And yeah, so we’re doing storytelling through photography and textiles in an interesting way.

    Cecilia Rose
    Amazing, and what is the story that you are trying to tell?

    currently, the story that we are trying to tell is of women in maritime. So it’s a exciting upcoming exhibition, showcase called SHE_SEES for Lloyd’s Register Foundation. And we’re working on their contemporary components, working with the women, various women across the maritime sector. And we have photographed 18 women in total. And we’ve asked, we’ve gone across the UK, Wales, Scotland, and even actually one trip to Sweden, to to work with these amazing people to tell their stories through photography and textiles. And Janine was very busy researching, and how to represent some of their stories, stories through textile. So I’ll pass that on to Janine Yeah,

    well, it’s a cool collaborative project. So the way me and Emily always work together is that as a photographer, and a weaver, the third party in our project was the subject is the story that we’re going to be telling so we’re all together booked as a team to express things in a creative way. And yeah, the maritime history is so rich of references and metaphors and different sayings and different ways of looking at things that it Yeah, it was very interesting to look at it from a textile perspective and try to get the story telling part out. What really helped us that we spend time with each woman you know, so where they live, what their work entailed the challenges that they’re up against you know, we’ve talked at length about obviously their their job and also their status as a woman within still largely male dominated industry so all those things together we’ve combined within that outcome of each each photo which references into each unique story.

    each woman we asked them you know, where would you like to be photographed where you know where centre place for you? Where would you feel best represents an aspect of your, of your role? Yeah, pretty much. Yeah. 99% chose to be photographed by by water. Understandable.

    Cecilia Rose
    I’m curious about the one in Sweden. How did that come about? And who was she?

    Dr Cleopatra, Doumbia-Henry. So the President of the Maritime University in Malmo in Malmo, yeah. So, I mean, she has connections worldwide. So, you know, I had to go to Sweden. And we yeah, we did that.

    Cecilia Rose
    Brilliant, and how do the photography and textiles come together practically in the exhibition.

    Erna Janine
    we have a set way of working, which is to, of course, meet a subject, a woman who is self selected to tell her story, and obviously felt strongly that there is a story to be told and share with a wider audience. And, yeah, I mean, I do a little bit of research before we set off into the particular role of the woman and so does Emily and her part. And, obviously, there’s things like the weather in the location that also come into play. And then we kind of focus on loosely the archetype of the job that the woman holds. And we try to give that official expression. So we have a couple of ideas in our minds. And then when we arrive on the location where we photograph, we’ll discuss it with our subject and, and we work with the situation as it is there and then

    Cecilia Rose
    brilliant, so it’s quite spontaneous, it’s kind of spontaneous reaction to these women and thier lives,

    Yeah it’s spontaneity built on some research and historical references, but also metaphorical references, it could be something that is a little bit more abstract that we’re trying to tell. So maybe setting your own course or creating waves, you know, those things are also aspects, even though they don’t literally apply to the job, but you know, causing ripples, maybe it’s something that we could say about women and maritime.

    Cecilia Rose
    And do you have a favourite experience? Or a very memorable, memorable experience from this project?

    Oh, there they are. I mean, I loved every single one equally, but I think maybe we could refer to one of the textile pieces that you thought worked quite well. What do you think, your what’s your favourite textile reference?

    Well, I think the one that came out, in my opinion, in the most interesting way, but I thought it was the most tricky to do something was with Barbara. Yes. So she works in archives at Lloyd’s Register. And our idea, of course, is based on time. And then we ended up creating a long timeline through the signs, but also through some of the Bronze Age, fishing contraptions that are left out. Yeah. And there’s also series of barges there. So it was kind of, you know, prehistory meets industrialised history, and the timeline through that, and Barbara holds the timeline, and which is, I think her role as head of archives and, you know, holding that history together. So we Yeah, and it looks nice, you know, the black sand and a row of barges, where, where would you find it?

    Cecilia Rose
    That’s an amazing, amazing allegory holding the timeline. Yeah.

    And she is, so she’s the Guardian, exactly, exactly.

    Erna Janine
    Literally holds the archive. So that that is, in essence, that sort of archetypical way of looking at what she does being a steward or guardian of that heritage. Yeah.

    Cecilia Rose
    And so obviously, this is all part of a wider, rewriting women into maritime history project. And how do you think this project has contributed to that and kind of raised awareness of women and maritime history?

    I mean, we’re looking, so we’re designing the exhibition as well. So that’s another story. So my husband and I, I’ve got a company called Sama Creatives, and we’ve been commissioned to design the exhibition, but collaborating with Janine, so three of us are looking at the exhibition. But essentially, Carl is designed the exhibition, so you come in, and there’ll be the past, present, and future. So then now and onward. So as you come in, we’d be looking at women, forgotten voices of the past, and then you come into the contemporary component, which is our work with the photography and textiles, and yeah, and then the third part would be so now what, so onward, the future, so plan to action? What’s what’s next? How do we how do we inspire young women to potentially, you know, want a career in the maritime industry? So that would be that would be an interactive, participatory magnet wall where people can put their thoughts and, and what’s next kind of thing and, and what is next is we’re hoping to have a central London based exhibition in March to be confirmed, where we can open the exhibition to a wider audience. Fantastic.

    Cecilia Rose
    So is that the first opening of the exhibition or when does it first come into being?

    So the first it will be an internal closed exhibition at the IMO. On the 11th of September, during

    London International shipping week, be the start of that brilliant new week.

    That’s the beginning. And then the March one would be the second. And then it’s, I mean, the idea is for it to be a travelling show. So yeah, that’s just to watch this space, really. So we’ll just pull the first bit and then yeah, it’s with a hope of having it travelling around the UK. But this is UK based. So the next phase, this is phase one, and phase two is going to be she sees international travelling abroad, going to different countries or finding women abroad.

    Cecilia Rose
    Oh, that’d be fantastic. Yeah, I mean, you’ve already done Sweden. So yeah,

    this is a good, it’s a good, good start.

    Erna Janine
    Yeah, this I think, yeah, women would have many things in common, but they would also have many separate locations, situations and different types of, of work that will be definitely needing to be part of a wider view of women and maritime. Yeah, yeah,

    Cecilia Rose
    exactly. I mean, why do you think that women historically have been kind of less recognised in the industry?

    Well, I think first of all, there were many fewer women working in the industry directly. I know, a good lot of them worked on shore in ancillary industries, like rope making and sailmaking. And everything that happens in land also support the maritime effort. Yeah, I think they just were not in prominent places within within the industry, and they just didn’t have as much of an opportunity to let their voices be heard.

    And also through some of the stories that we’ve read, that are going to be featured in the exhibition. And there’ll be plenty more online, because there will be a website designed and dedicated to this initiative. I think the opportunities were, they weren’t really present. And they weren’t available. It wasn’t advertised as such, you know, going through schooling and it wasn’t available, people didn’t think they will just think it was for men. Women think, you know, I’d have a career out at sea. But I think the ones who are slightly more forward thinking would grab that opportunity. And just some of the stories that I did read, they wouldn’t, they would, they wouldn’t sign it would sign a name as you know, Smith or something, but you know, not give away their gender. But it might also be, yeah, it’s clever, hey, and then they got the internet, they got the interviews,

    but it also might have been at risk at sea or the you know, there’s so many different factors where they actually would, you know, not be very safe. But you ever tried to, and we’ve spoken to many women in our project who have families and work at sea, and it’s it seems to be perfectly doable within the right setting. So it wouldn’t be something to exclude women from the industry,

    Cecilia Rose
    I think more of us just need to know about it. And could you give us some examples of what careers all of these women have had? So we can kind of get a picture of, of where women can go in the maritime world?

    And yeah, we can. I think we started with marine biologists we’ve had people in the boat building industry represented to people to women related to that, which is very interesting. In regulatory services on land. Yes, head of a Maritime University. Being an advocate for lobster pot fishing in Devon. We had a superyacht engineer, for instance, we’ve had a

    deputy captain of P&O an oyster farmer,

    Erna Janine
    a seaweed free diver. We had a company Yep.

    Wow. Yeah, lots, quite a few.

    Cecilia Rose
    And how did you initially track down these people and decide to make them your subject?

    Some of them are through connections through different organisations. But I started with looking at Lloyds and some of the women came to us. And just organic research, especially with Kira, the seaweed harvester I mean, that was quite unusual. Yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed that shoot. It’s just so raw. Yeah, and

    but at the same time, she runs a company with employees, she has to fulfil all the legal requirements. She has to do all those things that you do as a full on entrepreneur, as well as then keep an eye on the tides and make sure you get out to sea to wherever you’re gonna get seaweed from. So that was inspirational. I think that they’re heroes. And I think they’re full of stories, I think we probably could have filled another whole project with even more stories. Yeah,

    Cecilia Rose
    it’s amazing what a range of roles there are that you wouldn’t even think existed. But it’s fantastic and entrepreneurial..

    Erna Janine
    You could, yeah, there’s all these other things that fit in the category, but you wouldn’t necessarily think of immediately.

    Cecilia Rose
    Yeah, brilliant, and why? Why do you think this project is important right now, specifically, but

    Erna Janine
    we’re looking at different ways of telling stories, but also creating platforms for those women’s voices to be heard. And I think we’re trying to do it in a slightly unusual, but really contemporary way. So part of the exhibition also be taking place online. So there’s a lot of space for interaction, and and the overall project could travel very widely through the website as well. And hopefully, it would just become visible enough to attract slightly new audience, you know, just families. So whoever might be coming to our central London show, and to just raise the profile and create extra platforms for discussion. What is it? What is it like, what is there? Why would it be attractive, and all the women we’ve worked with are very enthusiastic about their careers. And it’s, yeah, it’s definitely inspirational,

    and just raising awareness to encourage discussion and action on inequalities that will still exist in industry today. That’s one of the key messages.

    Cecilia Rose
    Brilliant. Well, I think more will finish on that optimistic and exciting note. And there’s lots of ways that everyone can get involved, it sounds like so through the web, through going to see the exhibition in London, and wherever it tours in the UK. And so thank you, Emily, and Janine for opening our eyes to this wonderful project. And we will hope to hear more soon. And if everyone can follow us on social media, you will be updated. Excellent. Thank

    you very much for having us.

    Erna Janine
    Thank you very much.

    Cecilia Rose
    Thanks for listening, everyone. Be sure to check out our YouTube channel and follow us on social media. I’ll be back soon with some more guests to discuss all things women in maritime history. Goodbye for now.

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