Throughout the summer of 2019 I was travelling within Southeast Asia. On this journey I finally ventured into Indonesia for the first time and revisited both Malaysia and Thailand. During this time I focused on meeting people from rural parts of these countries and exploring off of the tourist track. After meeting many people, absorbing the language and learning details about the culture I decided to focus on the women of these local communities.
From my encounters I found most women to be very humble, which was refreshing and understandable from a religious viewpoint. I was drawn to these women as I felt there was a lot I could learn and discover through them.
I chose to focus on these women to show the labour they endure everyday to make a living. Typically the women I met were strong, highly skillful, focused and hard working. Work for most people in these less developed areas can be very physically demanding. Long hours and heavy lifting is a trait I found prominent in most job roles for both men and women. In comparison to the UK I find stigma, culture and beauty expectations can divide the physical work that men and women do in their careers. It was eye opening to meet these women and get a glimpse into their everyday life.
The title “Tangan Wanita” translates as “women’s hands” in both Indonesian and Malay. As seen in my images all the hands of these women are rough, dirty, wrinkled, damaged and/or well worked. Once again, not the typical image of hands you may see from many women in the UK. I aimed to capture movement and detail in all my images to express the process taking place before me, representing how time consuming and repetitive these tasks can be. All of the women are shown processing and handling local natural resources in preparation for sale. Regardless of the material in hand, I wanted my images to show the toll these tasks have on these individuals and how, like most job roles, the effects form the shape and appearance of the body we inhabit.
In all, I created these images to give an insight into the lives of these women to people who may not be exposed to the work that goes on in small local communities, like the ones in this project. In life everybody has a role to play and by understanding one another I hope work like my own can bring people from all over the world closer together.