The National Maritime Museum’s new photography exhibition – ‘Exposure: Lives at Sea’

November 2020

Dr Sam Willis visits the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London to explore their new photography exhibition. Exposure: Lives at Sea was brought together during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown. It is the first exhibition curated by Laura Boon, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Public Curator for Contemporary Maritime. The importance of seafarers has been brought into sharp focus during the Covid pandemic. Seafarers are keyworkers have helped keep our supermarkets stocked, and yet hundreds of thousands of them have been stranded at sea. This exhibition is designed to bring recognition to the important role seafarers play in the modern world and explores many themes with both contemporary and historical relevance. In this socially distanced, visually-led exhibition, the experience of work and play at sea is displayed through the lens of six seafarers and researchers – from the large-scale panoramic to the intensely intimate – bringing together photography taken around the world, from the reefs of Mexico to the isolation of Antarctica, to document the myriad ways life can be spent at sea. We rely on our oceans for food, ecosystem services, energy and transportation, yet it is a world rarely seen – making this exhibition both striking and important.

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