INTERVIEW: Keith Lloyd Davenport

Fòcas Programme Director Katherine Parhar interviews Fòcas India shortlisted artist Keith Lloyd Davenport, a freelance photographer based in Lanark, about his project Mare Liberum.

© Keith Davenport

F: This project, Mare Liberum (‘freedom of the seas’), is about the Filipino fishermen who crew fishing boats around the coastal towns of Scotland. What drew you, in particular, to document their lives?

K: Growing up in the fishing communities of the North East of Scotland I could easily have been one of the many young lads  seeking a life in the industry. I’ve seen a dramatic change from the heyday, to the decommissioning of the fleet, to the new energy it’s experiencing          now. The overseas crew form a huge part of this transition, not just   at sea, but also in the community. I see them as the heroes of the hour. The skippers across the North East wouldn’t be able to work without them. I feel compelled to record this period of change in the Scottish fishing industry.

F: It’s a local project but it relates to our changing – and much debated – perspectives on our global interdependencies, as in the labour market, for example. Is it an ongoing project?

K: Yes it is. I don’t feel as though I’ve accomplished yet everything I wish to in this project. There are so many avenues I can explore. That’s why I created a newspaper as part of my MA in Newport – more to come.

© Keith Davenport

F: As our political place in the global world destabilises, do you think the villages and the workforce you’ve photographed could change substantively?

K: I foresee more change. Currently, on the West coast and in the Islands, the skippers are facing the heartbreak of having to sell their fleet and say goodbye to a life that has been with them from birth. Due to EU fisheries policies, visas are under review and unless they fish 12 miles from shore in international waters they are not granted. This is having a detrimental impact on these communities with many boats tied up in port with lack of skilled crew available. I fear for the livelihoods of many seafaring families if this issue isn’t resolved.

F: You graduated from the University of South Wales in 2016. Where has your photography taken you since then? Or, where have you taken it?

K: I’ve recently been featured on the Document Scotland website and was honoured to be selected to show my work at the Reclaim Photography Festival 2017. My work on Mare Liberum continues alongside two other projects about life in Scotland.

© Keith Davenport

Born in 1975, Elgin, Scotland, UK. Keith is a self taught photographer, who discovered photography in 1997 when his late father gave him his first camera. This unlocked a lifelong passion for photography, that recently led to him achieving an MA Documentary Photography at University of South Wales, Newport .