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Tee Chandler

From the series I Hold My Hand

Artist Statement

In the space of five years, I was sexually assaulted at knifepoint, then physically assaulted by my lover, who then stopped me seeing the child we had brought into the world. The world has felt unsafe.

It’s only in the last year, some thirty or so years later, that I am joining up the dots as to why I am always compelled to keep my distance from people, no matter how far in they reach towards me. What triggered this awakening was noticing my habit of holding my hand to help me sleep, as well as noticing an increase in an internal dialogue, “What’s wrong with me?”

This project is my way of communicating the impact these events have had on me, and how photography is helping me process. It is a selfish self-serving act of art, and whether any audience connects with this will be a bonus. I hope they do—this work is how I am healing, perhaps others will too.

My practice has centred on emotion, and I put heart and soul into my work. In this work, my guts are also exposed. Photography is my therapeutic tool, it’s my self-care practice, and it’s how I capture the exposure of emotion. Trauma informs this project: how life events shape who we become and what happens when we do nothing to disrupt the chaos that follows and amplifies behaviour and emotion.

Nature has been significant in the process of recovery. At first, I thought that it was a clichéd response, but, increasingly, I am valuing that I feel better when surrounded by trees than by people, and this is not weird, this is vital to me….

The lighting in the work replicates the post-trauma dim, dusk tones of how things feel, but I am walking towards dawn.


"When I got back to the house, they listened then went straight out to find him. Of course, he was long gone. Sometime later they took me to Wales- the beach, soothed and cared for. Anarchists, feminists, they reached in. But the rhythm of panic, my reptilian response, had now set in, so I pulled away from those beautiful people."

White Horses

Beautiful times, we were beautiful women.

Your hand on my face, stroking the contours, kissing my lashes.

Licking the salt of the sea, the salt of sex.

Wrapped on love.

I gave all I could, emotions rushed out with my confidence. You gave emotion back, but withheld the lifeline of my self, a lifesaving ring became vandalised.

Each time we argued I became more out of my depth, like froth, white horses.

Tossed, distant, forever aiming towards the shore.

Close up I was disintegrating, becoming froth as she pushed and stirred and lashed out.

I never knew where I was.

She would snap.

One night there was a storm, one night she scattered what was left of this white horse.

A little drunk, sleepy, I went to bed.