Joey, Winner of ‘Art handlers award’ National Portrait Prize 2018
Lasse, Denmark 2018
B A T H E
In the Greek and Roman bathhouse as many as seven healers at one time would take a client into a bath with each healer taking responsibility for a specific area of the body. Their services were more sought after than local physicians’. These bathhouses, along with the Turkish Hamam’s were places to socialise, do business, even share a meal. The rise of western spa culture with its focus on luxury and pampering have largely taken away from the more traditional idea of the bath house and consumers are often more interested in combining the medicinal health benefits with beauty routines, scrubs, massages, masks are now here to practise their own bathing rituals. Today’s Hamams are a rare glimpse into an old tradition of self care, a care that is now more commonly practised behind a closed door.
You leave your self vulnerable when you strip down and submerge. But there are big and kind of primal (maybe essential) benefits humans get from baring their vulner- abilities in a communal setting. One of the consequences of exposing and aged body, a body with birthmarks or childbirth scars is an acceptance of ones body as it is but also an acquiescence to the group. Nudity is a great equal- iser. And the bathhouse once again seems to have become a place of acceptance, body confidence and a place of healing, of treating and sharing a mutual space. That’s whats so interesting - this idea of water as therapy comes in so many forms something that most people do in their daily lives but may not pay much attention to. Why do we use the water - how do we use the water. What I learnt so far is
that even if people appear to just be bathing for leisure its often so much more than that. Its often for mental health or for a sense of relief from life’s daily struggles. A swim in the ocean at the end of the work day seems to instantly lift moods, clear heads, create endorphins - benefit the brain and the body. Other people use bathing to relax, to control aniexties, or medical conditions, to strengthen the body, to relax the body.
This is an ongoing series
Half way HOME
My partner and I created our home from scratch out of an empty shell of a warehouse in Sydney’s inner industrial suburb of Marrickville. It was a place of warmth and love and transition during the six years we shared it with others.
In early 2017 we had to move on. I wanted to document something of the time and place and people within the walls we made: living in a working space customised as home, the loft bedrooms we made with our hands and own tools, the bathroom, the kitchen, the many shared meals the nights of ridiculous dancing, evening beach trips and a beautiful closeness of friends. We disbanded in 2017 in trying circumstances. Home was still inviting but I was mentally and physically dismantling our world while learning to accept unreasonable loss. I took down one life while looking for another. The images I made were not happy memories of hard work and close friends I intended to remember but a darker reflection of interior world I was processing at the time. Half Way Home is the initial chapter of a transient life between fixed addresses. A work in progress without a known destination. The next chapters will show life in other people’s spaces as well as our capacity to live with uncertainty, resourcefully where ever we lay our heads.
After years of Living the full spectrum of life from the circus to the military Sonny Benneweis is seeking a way back in. Searching for consistency, security and love. Beginning with self trust.
7am coastline Australia
Bathe, Ocean series 2015
AACES | ActionAid Kenya and Uganda
In 2016 I travelled to Kenya and Uganda shooting for Action Aids AACES program on sustainable farming. The program specifically targets women smallholder farmers who have great farming capacity, but carry a double load as both carers and also often as primary food producers in their communities. A prolonged underinvestment in agriculture, systematic discrimination and gender blind policies, along with the climate change and erratic weather patterns, is compounded to make women smallholder farmers particularly vulnerable to food insecurity - and poverty more generally. This program was involved but was not limited to education on sustainable farming practices, education on equality and closing the gender gap, economic empowerment and the representation of women as landowners.
Teddy is one of the many women small hold farmers in sub-Saharan Africa finding new and innovative ways to adapt to a challenging climate and increasing unpredictable ad extreme weather. Teddy is uncharge of the weather station in Kumi where she teachers farmer how to take weather readings. Pictured here with her twins Teddy also carries the domestic load of the house and is primary carer for her children
Mercy, a small holds farmer in Uganda looks over her farm. Mercy grows corn, papaya, green beans and cassava. She also breeds rabbits for food. Mercy is looking to expand her farm to include catfish though is having trouble with drought and keeping her dams full.
Mercy collects water from her dam. Her dam liner was bought with the support of Action Aid earlier this year. Mercy is looking to fill the dam with catfish and to start farming them though little rain fall means the dam has yet to be filled.
Women take loans and repayments at a new table banking scheme in Isiolo which lies 285 kilometres north of Nairobi.
Rhoda Mwende is a catfish farmer from Kanyonga village in Mbeere South Sub-County. She has mastered the complex art of breeding and hatching the young fish.
The single mother of three, who just five years ago depended on food aid, sold 40,000 catfish fingerlings to local farmers after the September rains, earning her KES 400,000.
Rhoda has mastered the entire catfish breeding process - from injecting the female fish with hormones to stimulate egg production, to squeezing eggs out of the fish and removing semen manually from male fish to fertilize the eggs. Here she is pictured preparing the sailing for the 'operation'. She says the males regrow their entire reproductive system with 6 months.
Rhoda standing by her hatching tanks
A farmer collects dried casaba
A farmer looks over young organic maize field.
Disability farming groups are available through the support of Action Aid to help teach nessicary farming skills to those suffering from disability.
A farmer tethers her goat.
Mary, bean farmer from Uganda
Agnes is a small farm owner in Uganda. Her husband drinks and sleep a lot. Agnes manages the farm and takes care of their 4 children.
Womens farming group.
Women smallholder farmers produce close to 80% of the continent’s food. From sowing, weeding and fertilizing, to processing and transporting, these women form the backbone of Africa’s food security and production industry. Despite their vital contribution, most African women lack secure rights to their land and any access is usually through a male relative.
Some of the women pictured here along with others from across the globe will be trekking in solidarity to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro to help them raise their voice for land rights
Safe Cities for Women | ACTIONAID
The safe cities for Women Campaign aims to improve the safety of public urban spaces so that women and girls around the world do not have to live in fear and can enjoy the vast benefits of their cities. For women who are poor the opportunities they find in cities would have seemed impossible to the generations before them. yet for many of these women the realty of urban living is harsh dangerous and demeaning.
Over 3.3 Billion now live in ever growing cities and town and many are women. In rented rooms in slum communities many women rely on public toilets or open defecation and unsafe public baths where they risk getting molested. Inside factories they face sexual harassment and violence from supervisors. On their way to and from work in unlit streets they can be ambushed or even raped. Travelling on overcrowded buses and trains they are groped. Going to and from schools and universities they are pestered, harassed or attacked. Action Aid and photographer Stephanie Simcox teamed up with Action Aid Bangladesh and Cambodia to bring back women living in their city. The aim was to capture strength, the reliance and also the hard ships of the women within their enviroment.
A grandmother tells her grand children to always enter crowed spaces or rooms last. Know how to leave quickly and quietly and to alway 'lend a deaf ear' to passing male comments. 'Our houses are gated at night to protect our women and children'
Early morning in Phnom Penh
A woman walks home alone after a shift at the garment factory 5kms away. Most of the walk is in darkness and there is no footpath.
Many women are pressured to work long hours in order to make sufcient wages, which force them to return home late, along poorly lit and lonely streets, leaving them vulnerable. Workplaces often fail to provide transport facilities, and even on public transport there is no refuge, as harassment is common and often ignored by witnesses.
Most women try to stay inside after dark
Kou is a sex worker from Phom Phen. She sleeps in a hammock under neath the house pictured with her 9 month old baby. She lives here with about 20 other sex workers. Kou's child will be looked after by other women when Kou is working. You says she feels unsafe at night with no walls around her.
Buses are an affordable mode of transport in Dhaka making them extremely popular. Large crowds crush onto buses making and foul play hard to determine where it is coming from. One student tells me she keeps a sari pin at her wait and in her hair 'incase anyone tries to put their hands on me'. The front seats on buses are reserved for women and children but this is often ignored.
A girl and her brother heading home before night
Kids play on a vacant lot outside the slums of Narayanganj
Kids make dams at the local river to catch the larger fishing allow the smaller to breed down stream
Cambodia's sex industry is treacherous, workers face the dangers of sexually- transmitted infections, violence, exploitation and rape, all while barely making enough to live. Leang is a 37-year-old mother of three, who works as a sex worker and experiences its dangers every day.
Leang lives in a dark room just 2.5mx2m with her 18-year-old daughter, having not seen the other two of her children since birth. The shelves are lined with HIV medicine, which is free, although condoms are hard to acquire.
“If you have a condom in your bag, you are not a good girl,” states Leang. Due to anti-traf cking laws, Cambodian clubs no longer sell or supply condoms. Her daily rent is $2.50 – which is roughly what Leang makes a night – so she cannot afford her own, leaving her sexual health at risk. In fact, Leang doesn’t even know whether her daughter has HIV or not.
Leang makes an active effort to avoid the police, as they arrest her often and she cannot afford to miss opportunities for work. ‘Gangsters’, a term used in Cambodia to refer to dangerous men more than those in organised crime, also pose considerable threat towards her safety and livelihood.
“Sometimes the gangsters pay me for sex then beat me and take back the money,” Leang reveals. Earning such a low income and with a daughter to provide for, whatever money Leang loses threatens to put her and her daughter on the street.
For many women in Cambodia, the life that Leang lives is one of very few possible options. Only 5% of Cambodian women have completed less than a tertiary education, so many are living below the poverty line.2 The dangers that Leang faces are the dangers faced by many Cambodian women left abandoned by their society.
2 Gallup World Poll 2014
Crowed market place.
Many women are pressured to work long hours in order to make suf cient wages, which force them to return home late, along poorly lit and lonely streets, leaving them vulnerable. Workplaces often fail to provide transport facilities, and even on public transport there is no refuge, as harassment is common and often ignored by witnesses.
Residents gather around the local store with light
A garment work sits in her room
This room is shred by two garment workers. There is a shared public bathroom that the women hesitate to use at night preferring to keep a bucket inside.
Women and children board the 'womens only carriage' at Dhaka station. The women board up to an hour before the train leaves in order to secure a seat for themselves and their family.