11 September 2019

Are you the next Vessel? Batemans Bay photo journo looks for her next subject

| Elise Searson
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‘The Vessel’ by Elise Searson is part of the Loud and Luminous exhibition.

“We are very pleased to inform you that your image has been successful. Congratulations, see you soon, the Loud and Luminous team.”

The email dreams are made of graced my inbox at a time I felt completely out of sorts with life. It was the beginning of a new chapter for me. One that empowers and encourages me to continue my life’s work. Not only because I want to but because I feel an obligation to share in the hope of giving others comfort.

Me with fellow Loud and Luminous artist, Fabiana Canepa. Photo: Elise Searson.

I am 1 of 100 female photographers to be selected in ‘Loud and Luminous’; an exhibition that has really started something – or is it a revolution? Depends on who you talk to.

From where I was standing on opening night at the Contact Sheet Gallery in Sydney, it is nothing short of a tribe walking a similar path with a shared goal to be heard – loud and luminously!

Attending the opening night not only meant I was leaving my one-year-old overnight with my parents for the first time, but it was also the first opening I’d been to since becoming a mum. It’s safe to say the anxiety nearly won.

Loud and Luminous Exhibition.

My exhibited work ‘The Vessel’ is informed by the life-altering experience of transitioning into motherhood. It got me by the ovaries, spun them around and catapulted them into what felt like a new galaxy. One that’s changed the way I see, forever.

As I perused the exhibit, I slowly and awkwardly approached my image which was printed immaculately. If it wasn’t for the Loud and Luminous badge I was sporting I would’ve gone under the radar and listened to the commentary. Instead, I engaged with it.

“Is that a dog?” said one viewer.

“It’s quirky, that’s for sure,” said another.

“I love what you’re talking about, it’s how I felt when I was pregnant,” was the most rewarding comment. That’s exactly what I want ‘The Vessel’ to evoke in women.

Loud and Luminous exhibition. Photo: Elise Searson.

As Whitney Houston’s ‘I’m Every Woman’ cranked at a high volume, Loud and Luminous founders Hilary Wardhaugh and Melissa Anderson hugged it out and encouraged every to dance.

Loud and Luminous is designed to empower girls and women to pursue creative careers and it is strongly focused on gender equality in the arts,” Hilary says.

“We firmly believe women need to work together to change the future and to ensure all of our stories are being told.”

The energy in the room amongst the crowd was like a big hug from your mum, comforting and supportive.

Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I got a call from Hilary while I was in the car with Solomon (my son), mid-tantrum.

“Elise, we love your work so much we’re rewarding you with a stipend to make new work continuing the theme ‘Power’ for an exhibition at Photo Access in Canberra next year,” she said.

I continued the drive to calm Solomon, taking it as an opportunity to cry with him, mostly out of gratitude but also because parenting is bloody hard sometimes and at this moment, I felt joyous.


If you would like to get involved in the making of my new ‘Vessel’ work, let me know! I would love to photograph you.

Get in touch at, [email protected] or @solomomsnow on Instagram.

You can see the Loud and Luminous exhibition at Contact Sheet in Sydney and attend the book launch there on May 3.

Editors note: Region Media is very proud of Elise’ success and excited to have her as part of our growing team. You can explore more of her work via – elisesearson.com

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