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Mother North Rising

a photo essay

by Natalie Soysa (photographer)

Natalie Soysa was one of 2 artistes commissioned to create work around GrOW, a project that identified Post-War Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women in the North of Sri Lanka in the 8 years since the country’s bloody and brutal civil war ended in 2009.

Natalie went on to create Mother North Rising, a visual investigation that manifested in a series of photo-essays and documentary film that give voice to the women of the north. She interviewed 10 mothers from Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Jaffna and Vavuniya, examining their personal stories, juxtaposing them with the wider geopolitical context in which the narratives occur.


To understand the economic and social pressures faced by women in the North of Sri Lanka, it is also important to get a wider understanding of the macro environment that affects their lives. The geopolitical context within the northern province is unique and must be considered.
This series of photographs attempt to show the rapid construction, the endless war memorials, protests for information on missing people, the constant military presence and other aspects that add to and affect the lives of residents in the north.

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The women of the North; a portrait series of the 10 mothers we interviewed in Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Vavniya and Mullaitivu. Some requested anonymity and have been photographed in shadow and in silhouette to avoid recognition. Photographed in their homes, surrounded by children, engaged in livelihood activities and the photographs of loved ones long gone, this series attempts to provide a glimpse into the realities of life for these women.

(Click on the image to pause)


See artist’s statement


What is the GrOW Project?