Sian Davey | Contextual Research

Since my first tutorial and recommendation from Sarah I have been looking at the work of Sian Davey. At this stage I am used to engaging with the work of other photographers and commenting on their work in a critical sense. However, when looking at the work of Davey, what strikes me the most is the sense of intimacy achieved by her projects.

When previously researching the work of Felicity McCabe, she made a comment that hugely resonated and I think applies to the work of Davey. McCabe states that in the long term process of making work ‘there is no beginning, no end, just chapters’. When looking at the various personal projects of Davey I am compelled to feel that the viewer is invited into her personal space. Her approach encodes a sense of intimacy that I feel few photographers are able to achieve.

The synthesis of technical decision making through elements such as use of light and the very personal nature of her work enables a deep connection to be established with the world that Davey invites us.

My recent contextual work has been directed at the representation of urban environments. I often encounter a barrier between subject and photographer. I also feel that within my own work I am guilty of not finding as much intimacy as I could.

Admittedly, Davey focusses her work around the family sphere and perhaps I would benefit from a closer focus on those in the family sphere.

Thinking forward, I currently feel (maybe due to the disconnection caused by lockdown) that I need to work harder to establish deeper connections with those I intend to include within my work. Subotzky (2014) states of his project Ponte City ‘Photography has always been about relationships for Subotzky anyway — “the pressing of the button is almost a by-product of engaging with people”. A key theme which I consider one of the most central important factors concerning the development of my own work.

At present, I am not as close to my project as I’d like to be, therefore I need to continue to make work in addition to cultivating relationships and making more of an effort to engage others. At the very start of this project I felt that my knowledge and understanding would lead the work that I intend to create, however I now feel that the work will lead the project. I previously felt quite nervous about this being the case, but at the same time I feel like I need to have faith in the continued progress of the project through the work.

Sian Davey from the project: River (Ongoing)

Abel-Hirsch, H. (2014) Ponte City and the urban myth. The Mail and Guardian. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 12th Feb 2021)

Davey, S. (2018) [Online] Available at: (Accessed 15th Feb 2021)

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