The Sargasso Sea

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image 1

The Sargasso Sea lies at the western edge of the route from Britain to the Caribbean, it is encompassed by currents on all sides and has no land for its waters to break on. The currents north and south of it were responsible for the traffic that populated the islands, re-populated, welcomed and then repatriated for over four centuries.

Colonial rule, that pernicious device of the ‘Old World’ gave rise to the cultural heritage of the islands, providing the backdrop to its history and the population that was ‘peopled’ by its oppressor are left with a legacy that presented itself to me as echoes in varying forms.

These images depict and document how I ‘see’ those reverberations from the past. The patronage and subjugation, and subsequent rise of independence followed by the re-patronage through commercial dependence on the world that created an aberrant society with societal norms that had no connection with their own heritage.

‘The Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys is a novel about displacement, about ‘otherness’, about colonial/post colonial issues (it may also be a feminist novel and even a post-modern novel!). The novel’s situation of a white creole being ousted by her native people and then ending her days in an ‘other’ place – Britain – kept returning to me as I made these images. I saw these symbols of the changing face of colonialism and the effects of post-colonialism, The diasporas of people whose fates have ebbed and flowed, much as the seas between the two continents have, still holding those islanders in a place of dependence. And that is what I wanted to show, my reaction to the past’s inflictions on the present.

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6 thoughts on “The Sargasso Sea

  1. The view through the embrasure looks beautiful – like a paradise. For tourists or for its inhabitants? It reminded me of the first edition cover of the book. There’s poignancy about these images in the way you’ve linked them.

    • Thanks Catherine, suspect many interpretations to individual images might be similar given the narrative I have spelt out, but I wonder about the conjoined images, and that is very difficult to portray on the blog.

      • Is it? There must be a way. Isn’t it possible to use any f the available WordPress media layouts? I would very much like to see larger images in that way.

  2. If I get time I will have a look at other layouts, I do plan to have them at the TV event at any rate – though whether I will have the time to show them and my other work I’m not sure.

  3. Pingback: Ornette Coleman and the ‘Open text’ | John Umney - Documentary

  4. Pingback: Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014 part III | John Umney - Documentary

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