The way they look

Sian Davey

Something about Sian’s images intrigue me deeply and leaves me a punch in my stomach that is subtle and long-lasting. Maybe it’s because her work is about family, community and self which is also the topics that I love to investigate on.

Didn’t learn that she was a psychotherapist before, the first work I was exposed to was “Looking for Alice”, a documentary series about her Down Syndrome daughter, Alice. Her images of Alice are intimate, honest, proud, and with lots of love. The light on these images are phenomenal, showcasing the daily lives of Alice and the family. There are a range of emotions displayed by Alice which touches me as these are also what we as humans and individuals would go through. The work reminds me of my childhood somehow, and those glimpse of moments somewhat match with my own versions of my memories.  The tenderness in these photographs make my heart aches in a loving way. I’m also particularly drawn to this work because of my background with SEN children. Maybe my understanding of them leads me to have a deeper understanding of these images. But even without such knowledge in a professional way, one would feel the sentimental touches in this work. My favourite image by far is the image of Alice sticking her tongue out (I’m guessing involuntarily) and touching grandma’s face, while grandpa is holding her and stroking her hair with tenderness. There is so much love in this image.

“Martha” was another piece of work that I was exposed to, which talks about her elder sister and her transitions during puberty. This is also a piece of stunning work which I relate it with Claudine Doury’s “Sasha” (I’ll write about this next 🙂 ).

Now the work “Together” which isn’t as well-recognised as the two above strikes me as well. It’s about family and what family means. People say if you want to learn about someone, see what books they read. I say, if you want to learn about a family, look at their homes and their dining etiquette. I’ve always love to see image of family eating together. In Chinese, dining etiquette is very important and it represents a lot about the Chinese culture and its association with the importance of family. Here, this series of work show so much about British families and its culture. How families are together, what sort of races there are, how each ethnic group come together as a family etc. The images show so much about freedom and roles in each family, the nature of Britain plays an important part of the family culture, TVs and food is also a trend in UK, mums are no longer the only care takers, there’s a mix culture of other ethnicities e.g. Indians, South Africans?, Italians? etc. The work for me is breathtaking and it makes me reminisce the time when I was living in the UK.


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