How can you see beyond the sea?
In the eyes of British Photographer Katherine Jack, the vast ocean is more than the subject of her lens. The ocean is a home not only to marine ecology but to the people surrounding it. What astonishes her is that the ocean is a magnificent mirror of balance of relationship between the sea and the people.
She has been living in and exploring Palawan since 2004; hence, she is acculturated to the local seafarers’ culture. Just like the locals, she breathes in the fresh scent of the ocean breeze as she captures the everyday lives of the locals taming the waves and bringing home the catch of the day.
She is not just a tourist with a camera hanging over her shoulders, taking photos of the glitz and glam of Palawan Paradise. She is an individual who captures the unspoken truth of the ephemeral state of nature and how the people cope with changes brought by time and season. She documents sea life within a life; her photography is a message itself.
She moves from capturing an elusive dolphin in the serene waters of Puerto bay to setting her lens on the local fisher folks in Northern Palawan using spears to seize their catch. She documents locals on boats, enjoying big droplets of rain or hurdling the torrid current underwater just to gaze at magnificent schools of fish. In one shot she focuses on the seafarer’s simple life and in the next freezes a moment in a young boy’s life in which he braves the waves of the sea to help his parents in their sustenance.
For her, the embodiment of her work cannot be separated from her being. It is not just a group of developed pictures framed in fancy borders. Her work is a symbol of balance of relationships. She is not just a photographer nor a story-teller but an active part of the story of the Palawan seas. It is her story from her dual perspective. It is her piece.
The Palawan Seas Exhibit is her second photo-exhibit showing the marine ecosystem in harmony with the populace. From a bird’s eye view, the photos taste of salt and gray; the combination of dark blue seas and the greyish clouds speak of true island life. The exhibit depicts the eternal and yet ever-changing relationship between marine nature and the marine culture of the local fisher folks in Palawan. It also shows the “still blessed yet endangered” marine state of the Palawan Seas and the need to protect them as they enter the modern world.
The Palawan Seas photographic project is a micro-representation of the realities of the Palawan seas, years ago and up to date. Change is inevitable; and our seas are never an exemption. Hence Katherine, through her photos, wants to inspire people to take real care of our abundant seas.
As a mother, she also wants to inculcate awareness of marine conservation in the minds of the younger generation. When asked what her young daughter thinks of her work, she said that her daughter tells everyone, “My mother is a photographer;, she works for the seas.”
When asked about future projects, she said that she will be working more for the Palawan Seas and will hold another exhibit hopefully in a much bigger space and for a wider audience. She also added that she is open to collaboration with other local photographers and artists, especially those who share the same advocacy.
Truly, the demarcation between foreigners and locals vanishes when it comes to answering a deeper call, and for Katherine Jack, whether she is British or Filipino, she is for conserving and maintaining the balance of the people and the Palawan Seas.