© Joanne Coates
From the series North Sea Swells...
This work was made with Fishing Communities in Shetland and took place in 2018.
Fishing has always been a part of my existence. Trips to the shore every weekend with my Nanna and Grandad. Obsessing over tales told from family maritime connections. I started this body of work in 2012, my connections with the fishing industry were limited to the Yorkshire coast. I managed to get some connections in Orkney. . . I was a working-class lass studying in London, this wasn’t going to be easy. The journeys were long, and mainly by bus and freight ferry. Nervous about being an outsider, wanting to connect, and to learn, not to take and to leave.
Fishing in a controversial topic, with a lot of negative media attention, not helped by photographers. I was keen to show people against the odds, out there, working, risking their lives and doing it with sustainability in mind. Spending days at sea on boats in September winds, talking, meeting families, learning about life, hearing tales.
This work is as much about that as the photographs are. This way of life is changing, and I fear despite measures of sustainability, undertaking change, and making financial risks the world is changing, we face issues around globalisation, climate change, and Brexit is especially prevalent here. I do not know what the future holds for these men and their families, but I hope they can be better understood through this work.