The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is among the oldest photography awards. It is presented annually to a photographer whose work follows the humanistic tradition of W. Eugene Smith. Among the finalists in the 40th anniversary contest, two caught the attention of the Blind Magazine’s editors. We take a look at Siân Davey whose work delves into the issue of poverty in her country.
As confirmed by a UN report, 14 million people live in poverty in the United Kingdom. This figure represents no less than one fifth of the overall population. Among them, four million can’t afford the basic necessities. As the photographer emphatically shows, this also includes children.
“In this project, I focus on women and children, because they are disproportionately affected by the imposition of austerity measures,” explains Siân Davey. “I observed the cumulative effects of austerity measures. The policies carried out by the conservatives in power since 2008 have been widely successful in dealing with a catastrophic collapse without upsetting the distribution of privilege.”
The photographer, who herself grew up poor, notes above all that nowadays it is much harder to cope with poverty and insecurity. Mothers, in particular, are often held responsible for their own plight, a fact Siân Davey finds deplorable and denounces in her images. She hopes that her photographs help to raise awareness and unite people around the issue.
By Jean-Baptiste Gauvin