‘Solomon, 2nd mate’ by Peter Iain Campbell
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic one group of maritime workers found themselves in limbo, unable to escape their ocean-locked ‘bubble’ for three months. A chief engineer and photographer, Popescu Cezar Gabriel, captured the experience as he and his fellow crew awaited permission to dock in Brazil.
‘Blowing off steam’ by Popescu Cezar Gabriel
His images, and those of five other people employed in the maritime sector, feature in the exhibition Exposure: Lives at Sea at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
“My relationship with the sea started about 21 years ago and for the first 10 I collected only memories,” says Gabriel. “Then I discovered photography and my life changed. At home or at sea, the camera became a part of me – my eyes, my voice.”
‘Self-portrait, stacking pots’ by Corey Adler
Laura Boon, curator of Exposure, explains the exhibition is an opportunity for people with an intimate experience of working at sea to tell their stories – and increase public awareness of the challenges they face – through inspirational photography.
“The ocean is vital for our day to day life yet we know little of the people who spend their working lives at sea,” says Boon. “When discussing the maritime world we often use big numbers – 50,000 merchant navy ships worldwide, over 85% of trade by ship – and the individuals involved can be overlooked. I was inspired to put the people right at the heart of the story.”
‘Precious cargo’ by Jennifer Adler
Besides Gabriel, the exhibition features documentary and fine art photographer Corey Arnold, a commercial fisherman in Alaska, USA; conservation photographer Dr Jennifer Adler; Michał Krzysztofowicz, a data manager with the British Antarctic Survey; drilling rig worker Peter Iain Campbell; and marine ecologist Dr Octavio Aburto.
‘Melt tank push’ by Michal Krysztofowicz
Exposure: Lives at Sea is at the National Maritime Museum from 2 December. Laura Boon is the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Public Curator: Contemporary Maritime at Royal Museums Greenwich
‘Playground’ by Octavio Arbuto
The RPS Journal is available exclusively to members. Join us to receive our award-winning magazine and read more inspiring features. Explore full member benefits here