Two years ago I was lucky enough to be booked on a shoot for Zoggs with Joel Coleman. Thinking it was a regular day at work, we got some great shots and braved the cold water to shoot at Bondi Icebergs, had some laughs and I thoroughly enjoyed working with Joel and his wife Sherrie.We got on like a house on fire - they're Manly Beach locals, relaxed, down to earth, love the water, and are truly creative, spiritual and slightly hippie beings - like myself. Little did I know, that this would eventuate into a whole art exhibition full of photos of yours truly :)
I worked with Joel a couple more times, this time exploring some underwater shooting in a pool, and then at Shelly Beach on sunny, clear days when the light is bright and refracts beautifully through the water. We were both so excited with the results and although I didn't know it at the time, Joel's brain was rushing with creativity and inspiration to make it into something bigger and better.
I've always been somewhat of a water baby. Having grown up with beachy parents, doing nippers, playing water polo and spending practically all of my childhood summers running around in the surf or the backyard pool - the water feels like second nature to me. It's therapeutic and soothing, and the scent of the ocean instantly makes me think nostalgically of home, wherever I am in the world. As a result, I'm calm in the water, able to relax my breath, twirl around and stay in there for hours at a time, as long as it's not too cold.
Who would have thought that my love of the water combined with my modelling experience would take me all the way to the Solomon Islands? Joel wanted to expand on the work that we'd done. He and Sherrie asked me if I would like to be part of a trip to Munda, to shoot underwater for a week and turn it into an exhibition at their gallery in Manly.
Now the Solomon Islands themselves are special to me. I had never been there before but my Dad and most of his siblings were actually born there. I have always wanted to visit and when this opportunity came up, I jumped at it. So off we went, flying via Brisbane, then Honiara (the capital) to Munda, where we met our chartered boat captain Gavin, his partner Luciana, and their gorgeous bouncy, clumsy puppy Luna. We stayed on their catamaran, the SV Chemistry for 6 days and sailed around the islands to find the perfect shooting spots.
It was beautifully rustic, unspoiled and untouched. Unlike anywhere else I'd been before, and I think we only saw about 10 people all week. The kids that run along the shore line waving at the passing boats are gorgeous and there's nothing quite like their smiles. All I could think about was what it must have been like for my grandmother over there in the 50s, raising young children and being so far removed from her life in Sydney. It wouldn't have been easy being away from all the luxuries that we take for granted, but it was truly paradise.
I knew the shots that we took were special, but last night, at the opening of the Nereids exhibition, I was completely floored. They tell a beautiful story, inspired by water nymphs, that you can read all about here on Joel's website. I'd never been part of a whole exhibition before, and the images are truly amazing. If you have a chance to get down to Manly Beach in Sydney between the 11th and 20th November, come and take a look at the gallery. They're even more striking in person, and each print is running at a limited edition of 3. They hold beautiful memories for me, and if I can eventually pick just one, I'll be lucky enough to take one home and have it as a beautiful memento of the trip and the amazing experience I was fortunate enough to be a part of.
I have some more photo stories coming to the blog over the next couple of months, but for now, enjoy the rest of the exhibition artwork, and please get in touch here if you'd like to purchase one of the limited edition prints.
Love, Lauren xoxox