Photographer of the Week #89: Sian Davey

Our select for this week is Sian Davey, a photographer, psychotherapist, and mother based in the South West of England. We’ve chosen to feature images from her series, Looking for Alice.

“This series is an illustration of family life—all the tensions, joys, ups-and-downs that go with the territory of being in a family… My daughter Alice, born with Downs Syndrome, is no different to any other human being. She feels what you and I feel. However, our society does not acknowledge this and her very existence is given little or no value…

I was deeply shocked when Alice was born as an ‘imperfect’ baby. It was not what I had expected. Our first experiences in hospital did little to diffuse this. Examining Alice, the pediatrician pulled back her legs, pushed her thumbs deep into her groin, and promptly announced that we should take Alice home and treat her like any other baby. But she didn’t feel like any other baby, and I was fraught with anxiety that rippled through to every aspect of my relationship with her. My anxieties penetrated my dreams…

On reflection, I saw that Alice was feeling my rejection of her and that caused me further pain. I saw that the responsibility lay with me; I had to dig deep into my own prejudices and shine a light on them. The result was that as my fear dissolved I fell in love with my daughter. We all did. I wonder how it might be for Alice to be valued without distinction, without exception and without second glance. This project is for her, for Alice.”

Looking for Alice is a tender, evolving series that reveals some of the nuances about familial relationships. Davey captures her daughter, as well as the rest of her family, with a sensitivity that can be felt through each photograph. Along with bright infuses of color and attention to natural detail, this documentary series attempts to encapsulate experiences that might otherwise go unseen.

For more from Davey, please take a look at her website.