SICK! Festival’s brand new commission I Am from photographer Allie Crewe grace Greater Manchester’s Metrolink stops as well as St Peter’s Square in a powerful new photography project.
Sadly, domestic abuse is much more common than many of us could expect, and it is crucial that this issue continues to gain visibility in order to stay in the public consciousness. Leaving a controlling, abusive relationship can result in feeling lost, as if a person’s core identity has been shattered but it can also mean a fresh start. Allie Crewe’s I Am project puts this sense of possibility and transformation into focus through a series of photographic portraits of people who have survived and escaped domestic abuse.
The powerful portraits range from defiant to delicate yet what they all have in common is strength
Having won the BJP Portrait of Britain award in 2019, Crewe’s portraits are sincere, with few props and all of the focus on her sitters. Using a research-based approach, her work often focuses on people who are in the process of overcoming challenges while working through some kind of transformation. The series consists of 12 images with the sitters posing in the light, captured with a gaze of empathy and tenderness. The powerful portraits range from defiant to delicate yet what they all have in common is the strength and vulnerability that was required to take part in the project. This is what the I Am series celebrates in the Manchester’s public spaces.
The project challenges the accepted narratives about domestic abuse
Just as you may have unknowingly met people affected by abuse in the past without any idea of what they’ve been through, you may come across these portraits on your daily commute. The project challenges the accepted narratives about domestic abuse, changing perceptions about the ways in which traumatic experiences can affect us. It highlights the opportunities to transform, to start again, and look towards the future with hope.
Allie Crewe has been an artist in residence with the charity SafeLives throughout the development of I Am, a UK charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse.