Boats, West Africa

by Lisa Kristine


DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 30 x 40 inches (76.2 x 101.6 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed and numbered 18/25
MEDIUM: Photograph, archival print on photography paper

This stunning photograph from the oeuvre of contemporary photographer and humanitarian, Lisa Kristine, captures an Essaouirian sitting in his boat, which is tied up amid a mass of others, all painted a brilliant azure blue. This photograph is from Kristine’s collection entitled, ‘Intimate Expanses,’ which expresses the great and awe inspiring environments in which traditional communities live around the world.


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During the 18th century, forty percent of Atlantic Sea traffic passed through Essaouira. It became known as the port of Timbuktu, being the destination of sub-Saharan African caravans bringing goods for export to Europe. The shipyard bustles today with fishmongers mending nets, sorting fishhooks, and tipping cartloads of ice into grimy wooden boats while vessel builders swing hammers at curved wooden hulls, and paint the boats the traditional brilliant blue. Locals in hooded cloaks and pointed slippers, such as the one in this photo, sit and inspect rows of strangely shaped, twitching fish displayed on the cobbles or boat bottoms. The magnificent blue vessels line and cluster the old port as gulls squawk in masses overhead and the stench of fish pervades the marina.

Today the port of Essaouira provides a living for 500 families. It is the coastal wind – the beautifully named alizee, or taros in Berber – that has allowed Essaouira to retain its traditional culture and character. For most of the year, the wind blows so hard here that relaxing on the beach is impossible, meaning that the town is bypassed by the hordes of beach tourists who descend on other Atlantic Coast destinations in summer. It has come to be known as the ‘Wind City of Africa.’ This photograph captures the untouched tranquillity of the city’s traditional life.


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A master storyteller, Lisa Kristine documents indigenous cultures in more than 100 countries, on six continents, instinctively identifying the universal human dignity in all of us. Awakening compassion and igniting action in a worldwide audience with

powerful, broad-sweeping images of courage and suffering, as well as intimate portrayals of human relationships. Lisa’s mission is to elevate the profile of significant social causes; especially that of slavery. Her work touches the viewer’s heart, and moves us to act. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has endorsed Lisa’s work, said of her photographs that;

“…We see dignity despite the dire and desperate circumstances. Her work commands a respectful connection between the viewer and the subject, insisting we acknowledge

the plights of those in bondage, and allowing us to raise a hand to help.”


Lisa was the sole exhibitor at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit, attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other prominent Nobel Prize winners. Lisa has enabled facilitated change for many of the causes that she champions. Christie’s New York, in celebration with Kofi Annan, has auctioned her images to benefit the United Nations. Furthermore, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Queen Mother of Bhutan and Amnesty International, have all both endorsed her work.


In 2013, Lisa was the recipient for the Lucie Foundation’s 2013 Humanitarian Award that recognizes achievements of master photographers. Her photographs inspired the Make a Stand Lemonade movement, which has raised more than a million US dollars and has enlightened the awareness of over 100 million people towards the cause for eradication of modern day slavery. In December 2014 she was invited to the Vatican to join Pope Francis and 25 of the world’s faith leaders who signed the declaration to eradicate slavery by 2020.


Lisa has gained broad recognition for her collaboration with the NGO Free the Slaves. Her breath-taking body of slavery related photographic work; is brought together in ‘Slavery,’ published in 2010. Lisa has received global attention for shining a light on contemporary slavery across media platforms, including CNN and Reuters, speaking at TED events, museums, NGO’s, business conferences, colleges and universities.  Her countless accolades and achievements are testament to the beauty of the photographs she takes, as well as the power of her humanitarian work. She has published 5 books and has been the subject of 4 documentaries. Her work on Slavery has been featured in three films released in 2014. One of these films, SOLD the movie, made by Oscar Award winning team, Emma Thompson and Jeffrey Brown, includes a character inspired by Lisa and played by Gillian Anderson.


Lisa Kristine’s work not only brings taboo social atrocities to light, but also has a softer side. Images such as this one provide a window into some of the most beautiful places on earth, and are always a celebration of colour.

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