Gli Isolani (The Islanders)
is the latest project by acclaimed British photographer Alys Tomlinson
Tomlinson has spent the last two years exploring the lives of islanders in modern-day Italy, capturing little-
known rituals and traditions inspired by paganism, fables and folklore. These almost theatrical images
document traditional costumes and masks, preserved and handed down for generations, worn during
festivities and celebrations in Sicily, Sardinia and islands of the Venetian lagoon. The project provides a
meditation on place, faith and identity.
Her portrait photography is often characterised by the intensity in the gaze of her protagonists and the
notion that every individual has an untold story, as seen in her previous bodies of work Lost Summer
and Ex-Voto. The immediacy and timelessness of Tomlinson's black and white photographs in Gli
Isolani provide a connection between people and place, evoking curiosity in the viewer which prompts
questions rather than providing answers.
Traditional costume, Tempio Pausania, Sardinia, 2021 Su Sonaggiau, Ortueri, Sardinia, 2021
Tomlinson's ongoing interest in anthropology and ethnography finds its perfect outlet in Gli Isolani
where she reveals a mysterious and otherworldly existence in which past and present merge and
cultural traditions converge.
In this series, Tomlinson continues to work on analogue film with a large format plate camera. The
almost mythical images, set against wild and rugged landscapes, blur the boundaries between fiction
and reality, artifice and nature and provide a rich visual language that reflects the complex history
these lands have experienced.
The book Gli Isolani
will be published by GOST Books
to coincide with the HackelBury exhibition in the autumn 2022. Essay by writer Sabrina Mandanici.
About Alys Tomlinson
Sos Merdules, Ottana, Sardinia © Alys Tomlinson (courtesy of HackelBury Fine Art, London)
Alys Tomlinson was born in 1975 and grew up in Brighton, UK. After a degree in English Literature, she
went on to study photography at Central Saint Martins and recently completed an MA (Distinction) in
Anthropology at SOAS, University of London.
Her major body of work Ex-Voto
(2016-2018) explored Christian pilgrimage sites in Europe. The works
encompass formal portraiture, large format landscape and small, detailed still-life shots of the ex-voto
objects and markers left behind. Ex-Voto
was published as a book by GOST in Spring 2019.
She is currently working on Mother Vera
, a feature length documentary film supported by Sundance
Institute, which focuses on one of the pilgrims whom she met in Grabarka, Poland and photographed for
Ex-Voto, exploring Vera's life at a convent in Belarus.
Her series Lost Summer
(2020) documented teenagers in north London who had their proms cancelled
due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Alys lives and works in London.
Recent awards include:
Winner - Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020
Nominee - Prix Elysée, 2020-2022
Winner Public Prize, Rencontres d'Arles New Discovery Award 2019
Winner - Photographer of the Year Award, 2018 Sony World Photography Awards
Selected solo exhibitions include:
The Faithful, Louis Roederer New Discovery Award exhibition, Les Rencontres d'Arles, France
Chichester Cathedral, Chichester, UK
Ex-Voto, Side Gallery, Newcastle, UK.
About HackelBury Fine Art
I Giudei, San Fratello, Sicily © Alys Tomlinson (courtesy of HackelBury Fine Art, London)
Established in 1998, the London gallery in Launceston Place is committed to nurturing long-term
relationships with both artists and clients. It continues to evolve and progress through an expanding
program of gallery exhibitions, museum projects and publishing ventures.
The small group of artists with whom HackelBury
work, represent a diversity of practice, pushing
the boundaries of various media. The work and practice of these artists encompasses the worlds of
photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture and performance. Each artist, whether emerging
or established, creates work defined by a depth of thought and breadth and consistency of approach.
Il Diavolo, Prizzi, Sicily © Alys Tomlinson (courtesy of HackelBury Fine Art, London)
Issohadore, Mamolada, Sardinia © Alys Tomlinson (courtesy of HackelBury Fine Art, London)