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Gli Isolani (The Islanders) - Signed

Gli Isolani (The Islanders) - Signed

by Alys Tomlinson

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The photographs in Gli Isolani (The Islanders) by Alys Tomlinson, inhabit a hinterland between fiction and reality. Over a period of two years, Tomlinson documented the traditional costumes and masks worn during festivals and celebrations on the islands of the Venetian lagoon, Sicily and Sardinia.

The images will be published for the first time in this new book, Gli Isolani (The Islanders), and was exhibited at Hacklebury Fine Art, London from 7 September – 29 October 2022.

More about this book

Working with a large format 5x4 camera, Gli Isolani draws upon the visual language of Tomlinson’s previous projects, lending the black and white photographs a veil of timelessness. At the project’s genesis, Alys researched the literature and poetry connected to the history and culture of the islands of Italy, exploring tradition and identity, ancient myths, folklore and fairy tales. Set against crumbling stone and rural fields, the images depict the elaborate and uncanny costumes and masks worn for Holy Week, and other events and festivals, often inspired by pagan ritual and beliefs. The fantastical tales and precious costumes have been passed down many generations within these communities where customs run deep. The gestures and the costumes depicted in the photographs draw on the relationship between man and the land, the sacred and the profane, and good and evil.

‘Looking into them, I see ordinary people in extraordinary habits. Pagan and religious. Masked and exposed. Collapsing time, in front of your camera. Within this present-past continuous, devils and saints, hunters and creatures take hold of my rooms. Inhabit them, tacitly. I try to listen to the tales their eyes and gestures tell, to the timbres of the light reverberating in all of these pictures.’
- Sabrina Mandanici

Published November 2022
Essay by Sabrina Mandanici
240 x 300 mm portrait format
118 pages + a foldout, 51 images
Hardback clothbound
ISBN 978-1-910401-81-1

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  • Alys Tomlinson holds degrees from the University of Leeds, Central Saint Martins and SOAS, University of London. She combines commissioned work for editorial, design and advertising clients with personal projects. Her work has been included in over twenty international exhibitions, most recently at Somerset House and National Portrait Gallery, London.

    In 2018 she won Sony World Photographer of the Year, a Silver Award in the Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibition and was shortlisted for the BJP/ International Photography Award.

    In 2019 Alys Tomlinson won the Public’s Choice Discover Award Loius Roederer and was a Madame Figaro 2019 shortlisted.

  • ‘I am drawn to subjects who could have stepped out of another era. Characters we may have met before in our dreams, nightmares and our own imagination. Making this work, I was reminded of fairy tales and stories from my own childhood. I was also struck by the great sense of pride entrenched in these communities, and was told time and again "Tradition is in our blood.”’

    - Alys Tomlinson