The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay
April 2016 issue
by Paul Blackmore
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine. Fabulous!”
Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Paul Blackmore’s At Water’s Edge explores the essential relationship
between humanity and water. It’s a global look at how water flows
through the spiritual and physical daily lives of people around the world.
Spanning eleven years and fourteen countries, the work captures and
evokes the pressing drama of the global water crisis and how it affects
those caught up in it: a billion people without access to clean water and
another 4 billion without adequate supply. Against this dire backdrop of
scarcity the work also celebrates how water allows us the quiet yet
essential connection with nature that humans desire. Or, as psychologist
Carl Jung suggested, that water reflects the subconscious.
A young Russian man immerses himself in freezing water as part of the Russian Orthodox Ritual of the Epiphany. Each
year a crucifix is carved into the frozen lake in front of the Monastery Velikiy. Believers all over Russia participate in the
ritual as a form of spiritual cleansing. Russia 2009.
Orthodox Jewish men and boys collect water from an ancient mountain spring during the Mayim Shelanu (rested water)
ceremony. The water is left to stand overnight then used to bake matzoh (unleavened bread) to be eaten during the
Passover festival. The week long festival commemorates the hasty flight of the Jews from ancient Egypt, as described
in the biblical book of Exodus. It is believed that the Israelites had no time to allow their bread to rise as they hastily
prepared for their precipitous flight from Egypt. Instead, they baked matzoh, a flat, yeast-less cracker of flour and water,
to take on the journey. Jerusalem, Israel 2009
Huge water pipes take water through the slums to the more affluent parts of Mumbai. Due to water scarcity and
pollution, clean, fresh water is expensive. The dwellers of slums rely on illegal taps into the water pipes for their
survival. India 2002.
By 2000 the decades-long war for independence against Ethiopia had resulted in 290,000 Eritreans living in Internally
Displaced People (IDP) camps throughout the country. The scarcity of clean, fresh water in the over-populated camps
was a daily health concern for the IDPs. Girls in a camp outside Asmara collect water during the war with Ethiopia.
The Aral Sea, once a glistening body of water, lost two-thirds of its volume when its source waters were diverted to
irrigate new mega-farms the Soviet Union created during the 1960’s. Diverting the water resulted in the collapse of the
once healthy local fishing industry, forcing people to abandon their homes. Previously the fourth largest lake in the
world, The Aral Sea is now mostly a dry graveyard of rusting ships. Aralsk, Kazakhstan 2008.
A Haitian man bathes under the sacred waterfall at Sau D’Eau
during the voodoo festival. Haiti 2001
In a Voodoo ceremony, Ogoun (the spirit of iron, hunting, politics and war) is honored with rituals and animal sacrifices
in and around the sacred mud pond Bassin St Jacques in Plain du Nord. A man, possessed by a voodoo spirit, falls
into the sacred pond. Haiti 2001.
A child, dressed as a deity, walks through the pilgrims at the Maha Kumbh Mela. India 2001.
A man bathes in an onsen. Japan 2002.
Amongst other Hindu bathers a woman prays in the sacred waters of the Ganges during the Maha Kumba Mela.
Around 60 million Hindu worshippers attended the Maha Kumbh Mela, making it the largest gathering of humanity
anywhere in the world. India 2001.
A Hindu pilgrim walks towards toward the Ganges to ritually bath at the banks of the river during the Maha Kumba
Mela pilgrimage. India 2001.
A woman attempts to wash her hair in an Internally Displaced
Peoples (IDP) camp. Eritrea 2000.
Trucks transport water to areas of the city where the locals, lacking access to clean drinking water, are forced to pay
for the delivered water. Dhaka, Bangladesh 2010.
In the streets of Brooklyn children seek relief from the heat by frolicking in the spray of water from an opened fire
hydrant. An opened fire hydrant in New York gushes 1,000 gallons of water per minute. New York City, United States of
Japanese men and women bathe together in Sukayu Onsen, one of the few remaining mixed gender onsens. Japan
Swimmers dive from a rock into the Black Sea, Russia 2001.