Artist Takeover: Elainea Emmott
2 August 2020
Elainea Emmott is a portrait & protest photographer for Black Lives Matter, UK Black Pride, Million Women Rise, Equality Trust, to name a few.
Her philosophy is to create authentic honest portraits that give a glimpse into community & family life as well as documenting feminist & black social movements that have affected the world.
She has photographed politicians as part of a new female collective called 209 Women, comprising an all-female photography initiative creating new portraits of the UK's leading female MP's & championing the visibility of women in environments that are still largely male dominated.
Her work has been featured by Conde Nast US in Together We Rise, along with the first black front cover for DIVA magazine, as well as national exhibitions.
Elainea is also a Chef & food photographer. She came to food photography as a respite on Sunday's after photographing protests on Saturday. She was featured on Crazy Delicious on Netflix & Channel 4 where she cooked for Michelin Star chefs, including Heston Blumenthal, Carla Hall & Niklas Ekstedt.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement moved the majority of people but sadly only collectively for a short period of time with Blackout Tuesday with no real lasting economic change.
It was the day when the white privileged majority reflected on a black screen their duplicity & privilege & lack of awareness about racism. It was a day when they were encouraged to educate themselves, read up on social issues about systemic racism & the inherent structures economic & social that supported it. Whilst brands & people alike claimed they felt 'woke' it was short-lived.
What it did change was the consciousness of black individuals & businesses about the tokenism & illustrated the change felt in believing our own narrative. It was hoped that it would result in constructive & different conversations offering real support to black businesses & supporting black narratives.
Unfortunately, Trending support given for one day isn't enough, just like systemic racism needs long term solutions. It illustrated the lack of opportunities to black individuals, artists & businesses who are denied the same opportunities given to white businesses, individuals. And this goes back generations.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has changed history resulting in questions, forums and conversations being had that affects the lives of all black people and People of Colour. It has also changed the dialogue of protest for all movements to learn from.
Protests have been worldwide, and it has affected all nuances about not only why we protest, but how we protest, and the conversations had affecting socio-economic and political narratives. It is not just about highlighting police brutality, but capitalism, education, history, monuments, books that show black people as a monumental race stripped and raped of our dignity and economic, political power and wealth. It is a return to our values, our histories, proud in the knowledge that we have become united with our narrative and narratives about us.
This is the turning point. Teaching our own history and commanding our own black stories which we teach to our own children in the belief that we were great and stand now as a great powerful people. Many signs about police brutality and the UK government not being innocent coupled with the colonial past and erection of statues and monuments angering the black community has been important in the UK as black people are proportionally more likely to get arrested, and in the US, to die.
The storytelling amidst the passion and energy of a march is electric. It is such a moment of understanding, dignity, hurt, compassion and understanding as only an experience shared can bring. I always remain changed by it.
I hope to be humbled for the rest of my life sharing these moments and bringing beautiful honesty to those who witness this honest exchange. I am always thankful in these moments to those who bare their souls and emotions to me.
Whilst we may not go things and situations ourselves, photography can move and place us in that very moment. The image of George Floyd sums that up perfectly. We are human, and the capture of the essence of humanity or the dearth of it should move us to act.
Making a mark - a pen, crayon or paint on a cardboard box which becomes a banner is so primaeval in the act of mark making. 'I made that' is how I feel when I see the swatches of banners all homemade from those who wanted to make a mark on cardboard or cloth & hold it up and show the world.
From marks made in caves with drawings to evidence that we were here to those on protests show the world that we care. Writing words on a cardboard box makes art accessible to all, to be the art & to be the protest.
The young have embraced this & are proud to be activists playing a vital role in discussions & getting their voices heard. As children we are encouraged to draw, to make marks. As adults this is lost & we get sucked into the daily grind of life, bitter & caught up with the injustices, in essence life has worn us down. Protest gives us vibrancy, it is of the now. When we protest we return to this simple & direct and challenging medium. This is our voice. Listen Up. And the World Listens.
The messages on the banners are illustratively simple in their directness but complex in their message. Facemasks have become the banners, messages over a mask put there to protect but also silence our mouths. The handwritten messages on these are also of importance. Community comes first but there are important messages not just political but economic where they show that no longer will be buy where we are not represented, but our power comes in using the black pound strategically to benefit the black businesses & our communities.
My work explores the different ways of mark making, even using the facemasks as showing our identity & how innovative people are with exploring themes of identity not only with dress.
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