Zena Holloway is a British photographer, specialised in creating still and moving images while working in water. Using the solitary and open space of the ocean environment, she takes the underwater aesthetic and makes her own magical setting. Her images capture the deep, and often complex subconscious connections, we have to oceans, lakes and waterways.
Born in Bahrain and raised between London and pretty much everywhere else in the world, she went on her first dive in England as a teenager. She lived in Egypt and then the Caribbean for a number of years before qualifying as a PADI instructor and Commercial Diver. Charmed by the magic of the underwater world, she began experimenting with a camera and decided to chart her own course in an ultra-niche profession. Nobody showed her the ropes; she taught herself.
The last mermaids / Guardians of the ocean
Korean Sea Women, or ‘haenyeo’ of Jeju Island
The haenyeo are part of a tradition that has been passed down from mother to daughter for a thousand years. They are the Korean Sea Women, or ‘haenyeo’ of Jeju Island who venture into frigid depths of up to 20 meters without any breathing equipment. They brave the dangers of the ocean, as they scour the seabed for abalone, octopus, and other seafood. The haenyeo not only harvest the ocean, but also play the role of guardians, protecting the marine environment around Jeju. Sadly, they are a dying breed. The patterns they used to work are breaking. Most of the women are over fifty years old, with the oldest in their nineties. Their numbers have seen a steep decline, from more than 14,000 active haenyeo in the 1970s to fewer than 4,500 today. In this series, they are portrayed as they once were: young and free. Industrialisation has led to the younger generation choosing to try their luck in the cities, and in addition to this the quality of the ocean is deteriorating rapidly. Despite numerous protests, construction of a new naval base continues that will further damage the island’s marine ecology. In an effort to preserve the rich tradition of the haenyeo, they are now listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.