Living History Project


This project documents and celebrates the lives of the last remaining women in China with bound feet. In the past year alone, three of the women I have been documenting have died and I feel it is now imperative to focus on recording their lives before it is too late. I have been working on this personal project for a few years, financing the project myself and through the sale of my photographs. Now is the time to reach out to get funding to complete this project. Although considered fairly barbaric, it was a tradition that enabled women to find a suitable partner. Match-makers or mother-in-laws required their son's betrothed to have bound feet as a sign that she would be a good wife (she would be subservient and without complaint). A tradition that started in the Song Dynasty, it was originally banned in 1911. It continued in rural areas until around 1949, with the start of the Cultural Revolution, whereupon women with bound feet had the bindings forcibly removed by government decree. The women in this project are now in their 80s and 90s.  In every culture there are forms of body modification that adhere to that cultures' perception of beauty. From Botox, FGM, breast augmentation, scarring and tattooing, to rib removals, toe tucks and labrets. I have set up this fundraising for the “Living History” project to complete this photography trip, therefore producing an extensive documentation of these women and their lives. These are some of the most amazing, kind, generous and compassionate women I have ever met. I believe that this project is of international importance to be included in museums and anthropological studies into traditions and cultures. With your help this project can be completed and submitted to academia.  Your contribution will enable a visual and written history of these incredible women who have lived through famine, the cultural revolution (where people were penalised for the four olds: old habits, manners, custom, and culture) and family deconstruction / migration of the twentieth century. All of the women that I have included in this project to-date are peasant farmers working off the land in rural areas away from City life depicted so often in academia on foot binding. There’s was not the life of beautifully embroidered shoes and luxury lifestyles. If my project gets fully funded, I will then be able to complete this photographic documentation alongside written interviews carried out with a translator, of the current (and hopefully some new) ladies. I will then be able to create a coffee-table book on these women for us all to share. Each level of patronage will receive rewards not offered anywhere else. My overall goal is to spend 3-4 weeks in a collection of villages in China, capturing on black & white film using my Hasselblad cameras—the women, their homes, and their community. On my return the budgeting of this project includes the cost of film processing and scanning of the negatives. I can then produce a limited edition hard-back book to send to contributors that have pledged over $USD 60. Rewards range from limited edition signed 5x7 inch prints to 16x20 inch silver gelatin prints, books and a hardback diary of behind the scenes. The overall budget includes: air and ground transportation, accommodation, translator, camera film and processing. The aim is to capture and celebrate a piece of history that is currently rarely shown and will soon be lost forever.