Grace Jackson · Whispers of the Sea


Whispers of the Sea is a series about me and my attachment to the sea but also how the sea makes me feel and how it has helped healed me, it was the first place I felt safe, it was the first place I went on my own and now it has been somewhere I always feel calm. After being sexually assaulted I contained myself in my own flat too scared to leave the comfort, too scared of the unknown. I started travelling to the coast and taking photographs and writing down all the things I could never say, as I stayed there for hours photographing, thinking and writing this is how I started to make work again, it started with a series called Shell Casing, then leading to The Fractures of our Soul and now continuing with Whispers of the Sea, since the first two series I have now been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I have learnt the ways I can cope with the nightmares and the flashbacks, and one of these is being by the sea. All the work is shot on analogue ranging from large format to medium format. I use analogue photography because I love the control I have over it, after what happened I need to always feel in control, and although it can become obsessive, by loading, developing and printing all my own work in my own darkroom it becomes cathartic to work on the print and get the outcome I really want and showcase how I feel, but also it is a way of me putting this trauma into my work, and giving myself a voice I have never felt I have had since the attack as for 18 months I was silent and once I started talking about what happened I faced a lot of criticisms and set backs as many people didn’t believe me including the police, my family and friends, I started to doubt myself and not know if the nightmares and flashbacks were real, I started to doubt my own memory and sanity, therefore the series allows me to say what I want without having to utter the words or worry about someone else’s reaction or judgement, my photographs can speak for me. Further from this I want to generate conversation, conservation about sexual assaults and why our society shuts down and victim shames the women who have suffered enough pain, why the first words out of peoples mouths are “were you on your own”, “what were you wearing”, “was it late at night” – like any of these questions should matter, but just because we are women we have to protect ourselves instead teaching that rape is wrong. I layer both the landscapes and the nudes because to me the landscape is a body as well, it is talking about the female form alongside my safety, I choose nudes because the topics I am talking about I want bare skin I want the fragility of the female body next to the place I feel safe. By layering I am also putting my own touch on the series, it is very personal to myself and is a way to help myself heal.