Emma Critchley

February 2015

About Emma:

Emma Critchley has worked as an underwater image-maker for over ten years. In 2011 she graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art. Through working with a combination of photography, video and installation she explores the human relationship with the underwater environment. Emma has developed works funded by The National Media Museum, The Photographers Gallery, The Arts Council England, The British Council, the Singapore International Foundation and INTERREG IVC (financed by the European Regional Development Fund). Awards include the Royal College of Art Sustain ‘Moving Minds’ award, winner of the British Underwater Image Festival, finalists in the Saatchi Gallery & Channel 4’s New Sensations, the Saatchi Gallery & Google’s Motion Photography Prize and most recently the Firtish Foundation & Saatchi Gallery’s UK/RAINE award. Her work has been exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at The Australian Centre of Photography, the ICA Singapore, Gerhard Marcks Haus Germany, The National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers Gallery and the Royal Academy.


Week 1

The Bajan Queen

This week has been a week of acquainting and reacquainting
Acquainting myself with this beautiful island
Recceing on land and in the sea
Finding places that inspire me, where I will return to make work and finding people who will get me there:

Reacquainting myself with the sea; a place where I feel at home, happy
Although I’ve not dived Bajan waters before there is something about being in the ocean that’s like an old familiar friend, a place I already know, have always known

Twice to Carlisle Bay – a walk off the beach into the blue where wrecks await us. Cement, wood, steel. Un-wanted vessels, chambers of histories that have been laid to rest; Barge (16 years), Corn Wallis (16 years), The Bajan Queen (14 years), Ellion (20 years), Ce -Trek (40 years), Berwyn (87 years)

Another shore dive off the coast of Speightstown to trim the weighting for my new underwater film equipment. A test that turned into a dive … for 70 minutes … in search of a wreck that we never found …

Sunday’s ‘two wreck challenge’ with “Badass’n”, the Barbados Dive Association. An opportunity to recce two more wrecks

Off the side of the boat 18 divers descended over a small wreck like predators picking over a carcass. Photographing, catching, probing …

Together we headed out into the blue in search of the Pamir – a sunken 170ft freighter that was to be our destination. After 30 minutes swimming headlong into the current its majestic figure finally emerged out of the darkness. But we had reached the end of air. Our time was up and we had to return to the surface. A wreck to be explored again

Animal Flower Cave, a beautiful coastal cave with sea pool over looking the rugged north coast. A natural limestone chamber carved out by the Atlantic elements … another place to return to


Week 2

The week started with an experience I will never forget …witnessing the first few moments of a foal’s life. She came out faster than anyone expected, so we sadly we missed the birth, but were still able to spend time with them in these first few moments of life as the mother licked her daughter over and over and over and over and over and over and over…

Barbados Community College

The nurturing week continued with talks and workshops at Barbados Community College and Workman’s Primary School…great fun, some great pictures made and interesting conversations had…why are kids so obsessed with selfies?!

A dusk dive back at Carlisle bay, where the wrecks that are becoming familiar take on new form at night. Swimming back in the inky-black ocean, rocking with the sway of the tides

Two beautiful hours in the Animal Flower Cave before it opens to tourists, getting washed around with the tide exploring crevices and reflections

A lovely dive on the Pamir – a 165ft wreck off the North West of the island. Fantastic to have an hour filming and exploring whilst the others caught Lionfish…

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I finally got out to the Cement Plant Pier, which lived up to it’s expectations. Two serene hours weaving in and out of its stark architectural pillars


Week 3


Very sadly this has been a week of last dives, re-visiting favourite locations to make sure I have captured everything I can to take back with me and make sense of…

Tuesday was a beautiful dusk dive at Carlisle Bay with Shawn. Falling in off the beach into the cool waters is a great way to end the day. We did the usual tour to the six wrecks – me filming, whilst Shawn counted Trumpet fish…

Dry Wednesday involved out-of-water filming. I was lucky enough to have another morning at Animal Flower Cave to capture the cave from above the water’s surface…again 2 hours passed like 2 minutes

Bathsheba rocks were the subject of the afternoon – another beautiful time on the rugged East coast filming rocks sculpted by the ocean

A frustrating second dive on the Pamir due to a cog coming loose inside the housing, which meant I couldn’t film…so it ended up being a pleasure dive. And very pleasurable it was. Bill guided me into the nooks and crannys of the wreck – up the stairs and through the engine room…loved the low ceilinged cargo hold with its wirey seagrass and lurking creatures

So lucky to have fantastic conditions on my last daytime visit to the Bajan Queen – shafts of light pouring in through the wrecks’ apertures, soldier fish guarding the quarters…

We finally made it to Harrison’s Cave for a walk around guided tour through the very hot and muggy cave system!

What better way to end my filming and diving residency than a full moon night dive. The moon lit up the waters as we dropped in down into inky blackness. Despite the occasional getting lost that usually ensues with these kind of dives, they are always the most peaceful…