© Michelle Sank // Britney and Ross, 16th June 2020
The Story behind the Portrait
This image is from my current series “Breathe”. Since March I have been documenting – first with social isolation and then with lockdown – how people have managed private and public spaces in a neighbourhood where I live.
I have been drawn to how people of all ages are negotiating this new way of being and how their interaction with these spaces has unfolded – those living on their own, those in relationships and those within families. The interaction and stories that have emanated from these meetings has added another dimension and poignancy to the unfolding situation.
Prior to this image being taken I had photographed Britney’s brother and on delivering the photograph to the family home I met their mother. She showed me a photograph of Britney and taken by the way she looked I enquired whether I could work with her too. She said that they had just found out she was pregnant but had not been feeling too well so was going for a scan the following week and if I came that day she would have dressed up to go out. I went with some trepidation that evening as to whether her and Ross would still like to participate but they had prepared for my arrival. I really enjoyed the strong sense of individuality and presence within their partnership and the sensual light that embraced this. I will continue to visit them to photograph her through her pregnancy.
I have been drawn to how people of all ages are negotiating this new way of being and how their interaction with these spaces has unfolded – those living on their own, those in relationships and those within families.
Michelle Sank was born in South Africa and currently resides in the UK.
She is a documentary photographer whose work explores contemporary social issues. Her photographs have been exhibited and published extensively in the UK, Europe, Australia and Mexico, South Africa and the U.S.A. Her imagery is held in the permanent collections of Allan Servais, Brussells, Open Eye Gallery Archive, Liverpool, Societe Jersiaise and Guernsey Museum, Channel Islands, Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.
She has undertaken numerous commissions for prominent galleries and magazines in Europe and the USA and her work has won awards in prestigious competitions including the National Portrait Gallery and the British Journal of Photography.
Sank has four published books, The Water’s Edge – Women on the Waterfront; Becoming – a major monograph featuring her youth portraits taken over five years; The Submerged about the landscape and inhabitants of Aberystwyth, Wales and My.Self about the cultural identity amongst diverse young people in the Black Country.
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