Coral Lands (2018) is an underwater series of photographs constructed in large water tanks, in which unique marine creatures are arranged amongst live rock and florals to present strange and other-worldly landscapes.

These unusual and precious sessile animals exist alongside bright colours and night sky backdrops, creating familiar yet dream like vignettes, encouraging the viewer to delve into their own imagination.

Each of these scenes has been carefully and often elaborately constructed underwater. A water tank environment was prepared where coral could thrive, florals and plants, held down by weights were then introduced and carefully placed. Once the scene was set with time being of the essence, LED lighting was temporarily replaced with studio lighting.

Throughout the photographic process, a focus plane merging technique was used to extend the depth of field in the works. Later in the post processing stage, multiple layers were manually blended to create a single image, the aim being a perfectly in focus image. Attempting this slow technique was quite a challenge when it was discovered that coral can and do move quickly, making the blending process almost impossible at times.

Although the images have a still life quality, the reality of working with living things that move before your very eyes was both technically challenging and wondrous.

Each planetary day, coral emerges at dawn and retreats at dusk. One magical night of the year on a full moon, entire coral reefs spawn, reproducing in synchrony. Their eggs are carried by ocean currents to create new life,  shining a glimmer of hope for this disappearing life form.

It is my hope that this series draws the viewer into the strange beauty and acute fragility of this life form and highlights the devastating impact of humans on our oceans.

Coral has long been a source of fascination and mystery
for early philosophersand scientists.
Theophrastus, Aristotle’s pupil included them in both his book on stones,
and in his Enquiries on Plants describing them as
“large stony plants that reveal bright flowers when under water.”

Pliny the elder described coral as being
“neither animals nor plants,
but are possessed of a third nature.”

The works feature stars and moons which hint at the lunar relationship and cyclical attunement within all nature,
also symbolising the artist herself living with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder,
a debilitating hormone-based mood disorder which follows a predictable,
cyclic pattern where imbalances arise during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

©2022 Lilli Waters. All works and content copyright Lilli Waters. All rights reserved.