At Water's Edge : Paul Blackmore

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‘Water has no taste, no colour, no odour; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.’

At Water’s Edge explores the relationship between humanity and its most vital natural resource. This extraordinary body of work – spanning 11 years and 14 countries – provides a global look at how water flows through the spiritual and physical daily lives of people around the world. The photographs poignantly illustrate the unfolding drama of the global water crisis and how it is affecting those caught up in it: a billion people without access to clean water, another four billion without an adequate supply. Against this dire backdrop, the work also celebrates the quiet, yet essential connection with nature that water offers us.

At Water’s Edge begins in in the year 2000, during the Eritrean/Ethiopian war, when a lack of water became drastically affected those attempting to flee the conflict. The scarcity of clean water has also evolved into a devastating drama still seen in many Third World cities, particularly in Mumbai, where even the city’s poorest citizens are forced to pay exorbitant amounts for clean water. Blackmore also explores strange scenarios that occur when seas die. In Kazakhstan, Blackmore discovered that a once glistening body of water, the Aral Sea, had lost two-thirds of its volume after source waters had been diverted for cotton irrigation, during the Soviet era. Blackmore recorded a desolate, surreal image of a lone, rusting fishing boat stranded on the dry seabed, symbolising the Aral Sea’s now devastated fishing industry.

Contrasting strongly with powerful environmental statements are images of extraordinary beauty, as Blackmore defines the global spiritual and religious importance of water. Spiritual ecstasy experienced during the Saut D’eau Voodoo waterfall pilgrimage in Haiti contrasts with the Mayim Shelanu water collecting ritual in Israel. At Water’s Edge also explores images that range from the icy temperatures of the Festival of the Epiphany in Russia to the steamy waters of the Japanese 'onsen'.

Blackmore’s many photo essays and stories, published in such international media as Time, L’Express, Le Monde and Geo, have established him as a much sought-after collectable photographer. He has gained prominence through his exhibitions at Camera One New York, Stills Gallery Sydney, Perpignan France and the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. In 2010 a series of photos from At Water’s Edge were exhibited at the esteemed Biennale D’Limage France and in 2012, at the Leonardo Museum Salt Lake City. Blackmore is one of a new generation of photojournalists – reporters of reality –whose elegant, coherent and enduring observations function as both valuable records of social change and stunning fine-art images.

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