Lilli Waters’ State of Fantasy
by: Khiera Nicole
August 20, 2012
As the hustle of rush hour draws to a close, locals clock off their jobs, step into the neighborhood pub for a mid week drink, and sink back into their chairs. Tonight, I sat down with local photographer Lilli Waters. Our wines, one red, one white, stood opposite as we relaxed back conversing over her work. I had stumbled across Lilli Waters unexpectedly whilst mindlessly browsing through the internet, I was struck by a particular image resonating a dark sense of solitude infused with a peaceful vibrancy and after several clicks of the mouse I discovered ‘SHE RAW.’
‘SHE RAW’ is an exquisite series of 41 images “documenting everyday women in a state of fantasy, whilst drawing from real-life experiences.” I went on to discover all proceeds raised from the exhibition ‘SHE RAW,’ as well as 50 percent of funds from Waters’ book went to White Ribbon (Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women). Moments later, an email was sent and now, here we are, face to face discussing ‘Lilli Waters’; her concepts behind ‘SHE RAW,’ experiences shooting this project, the collaboration with White Ribbon and future project plans.
Waters’ talent is undoubtedly a reflection of her environment, from a generation of artists, she carries on tradition via still images. When asked to describe her style, Waters instantly answered “raw art,” which so perfectly mirrors through her images, from the grainy nostalgic mood, to the honest view of awkward and ugly, together with a soft sensitive and feminine touch.
The project, and its befitting title ‘SHE RAW,’ encompasses 41 images that evoke individual emotion through the stories of 41 women, allowing each woman to ‘roar’ through her message, whilst keeping ‘raw’ through frame. ‘SHE RAW’ was deftly built on the idea that “women loved to be photographed, women have stories to tell.”
Prior to the shoot, Waters spoke with each woman and together they formed a concept based on each individual’s story combined with her ideas. These stories encompassed themes of personal discovery, growth and empowerment, as well these women’s harsh and brutal realities. Collectively, these were everyday women, your mother, your sister, your neighbor. Waters shared a story of a woman she photographed, who tasted the bitter malice of sexual and physical abuse, her endurance sharply defines the concept of ‘SHE RAW’ — “after offering me a glass of scotch before noon, she then told me how she had left her partner and father of her children, later after discussing a concept for the image, she asked me to write ‘FORGIVE’ in big letters across the top of her chest. I didn’t ask the meaning but you can get an idea of the place she is in now, having the strength to take the step and break away from violence.” This is just one story of many and in this case, one story of 41.
Waters went on to provide her interpretation of the contrast of emotions depicted within the series of images, “Yes there is violence. Yes, there is vulnerability. Yes, there is darkness; however, there are a lot of beautiful and peaceful images. The contrast of beauty with ugliness, love with pain, anguish with peace, living with violence is just not all hurt, there is also love, and it’s unfortunate that these intertwine.”
Forty-one images later, Waters reached out to White Ribbon. Together they collaborated on creating awareness as well as communicating a social message via art. “I researched various charities and victim housing, but ultimately I wanted to give to an organization that educates the perpetrators to stop, ending the source of violence.”
Sixteen months from start to finish, ‘SHE RAW’ is now of the past, leaving behind a jarring honest piece of work that has contributed to increasing awareness and support of the raw issues women experience. Today Waters steps forward into her new project themed around the ‘stem punk’ era, with a vision delivering a “dark philosophical and environmental message through a fantasy world.”
To see more of Lilly Waters’ work click here.