In quiet depths of calm solitude, Lexi Laine takes us to another world entirely, below the surface of waters we thought we knew.
Words by Rosie Cattrell
Having been drawn to the under-water world since childhood, fascinated by marine life and visions of Cornish mermaids lurking in tide pools, the work of Lexi Laine caught my attention instantly when I happened upon her last year. Capturing ethereal scenes of women lost in private watery realms, there is an otherworldly feel to her work that leaves me longing to float.
Lexi studied BA Fine Art at the University for Creative Arts in Canterbury, and since then has built a career as a photographer and artist, winning The Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize iCanvas Photography Award in 2020. Awarded ‘Image of the Year’ by Photography Farm two years in a row in 2018 and 2019, not to mention being sponsored by Sony UK in her recent behind-the-scenes documentary ‘Under The Surface’, Lexi’s work takes her all over the world, from the magical cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, to fondly familiar Cornish shores.
With several years of freediving training behind her, Lexi prefers to immerse herself into a shoot on a single breath alongside trained freediving models, away from the distraction of scuba equipment, as she explains: “I choose to undertake all of these projects whilst freediving because it gives me a better connection with the people that I photograph and also with the environment in which I work. Together we experience the thrill of holding our breath and diving deep down into our underworld. It is here that I feel the most alive and in touch with myself as an artist.”
Human impacts on our marine environment, alongside influences of 17th and 18th century baroque painting and themes of myth and folklore thread their way through Lexi’s portfolio, bringing together surreal contradictions and blurring the boundaries between fantasy and reality.
“I greatly admire the aesthetic of renaissance and baroque artists and the way they used light to add drama to the scenes they depicted,” she continues. “I am drawn to creating a visual narrative where the women in my images become characters from surreal stories, and there’s often an apparent journey in the images I create; in some she floats towards the light in an eerie suggestion of traveling from one world to the next; in other scenes, she is being consumed, a representation of vulnerability and a reminder of the incredible force of water. I look to bring out her feelings of euphoria and of melancholy, with an aim to transport the viewer into these dreamscapes so that they can find in these images their own fears and fearlessness.”