Paul Blackmore - L'Eaux

6 August to 6 September, 2003

Paul Blackmore

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Waters by Paul Blackmore captures in stunning black and white imagery the importance of water to humanity. His works explore how water flows through the physical, spiritual and daily lives of people around the world. In this International Year of Fresh Water, Blackmore's work focuses our attention on water as a precious resource, a life source and a fundamental need. Even in Australia, one of the driest countries in the world, many people take our continuing supply of clean water for granted. Waters continues Blackmore's interest in the environment and humanity's relationship to it. The exhibition has three thematic components. Faith, Struggle and Immersion.

Faith comprises two main sections. The first is of Voodoo in Saut D'Eau in Haiti where thousand of pilgrims come to seek spiritual purification under the sacred waterfall. The rituals here and at the festival at Plain du Nord visually express the importance of water that can be found in all religions.

The other section is of the 2001 Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India. During 42 days of the Mela festival 70 million pilgrims came to bathe at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. Hindus descended into the sacred water at Sangam (the confluence of the rivers) in an act of purification and atonement. It was the largest gathering of humanity ever.

Struggle looks at the growing problems of water scarcity around the world. With a billion of the earth's population without clean drinkable water it the largest problem facing humanity and the environment. Blackmore began this personal project in March 2000 by documenting the water problems in Bombay, India. For the millions of poor residents of the slums collecting water is a daily struggle, a task that falls mainly to women and children.

In May 2000 Blackmore photographed the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The two countries were already suffering a famine as a result of drought and war. The Ethiopian army offensive created a humanitarian crisis as huge numbers of refugees fled the fighting. Although the war was the general and initial concern the most immediate issue for the 750000 refugees was the need for water.

Immersion looks at water in our daily lives. It has been photographed in many countries including Australia, China, Russia, USA, Japan and Egypt. It evokes the primordial human attraction to water.

Paul Blackmore was born in Australia and after graduating from university began his travels across the country. These evolved into a project looking at how Australians relate to the land and each other. In 1999 a book of this work, Australians: Responses to the Land was published. His time spent in remote Aboriginal communities led him to an active role in the land rights movement. In 1997 he made the photographs for the Human Rights Commission's Report into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Blackmore moved to Paris in 1999 where he continues to work for various European and Australian publications.

Waters is Blackmore's first show at Stills Gallery. This is an official event to mark the International Year of Fresh Water.