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A Womans Fate
Photography Wendy Lee Warne

Tackling cross-continental female identity

Recent LCC graduate Wendy Lee-Warne explores the complex narrative of societal expectations and cultural differences in relation to womanhood

Introducing Wendy Lee-Warne, former architect turned LCC graduate who decided to delve into the medium of photography after falling in love with developing film at her former universities darkroom. Her series, A Woman’s Fate, is a projection of societal pressures, the looming shadow of gender roles, and cultural expectations for a woman of Chinese descent. The saying, 重男轻女 'zhong nan qing nu' (value the male, disdain the female), is something Warne says to have experienced throughout her whole life. Through this series, she explores not only these hypocrisies, but also how stifling stereotypes and archetypes can impinge on a woman’s psyche. 

“I grew up with my mother telling me that a woman’s job in life is to get married, bear children and serve her family. The stereotypical idea of 'woman' is something I have struggled with all my life. This project is an alternative discourse to the female stereotypes that still dominate society today, particularly in Chinese culture. I want to explore the various trajectories a woman’s life can take.”

These atmospheric, unapologetic self-portraits hone in on a burdening aspect to entering womanhood – to follow a traditional route or not? To become a bread-winner or housewife? How can personal freedom for a woman be defined and adjusted? Issues that definitely are not inclusive to the eastern life. Half the series was photographed in her native Singapore and the other half in London, where Warne is now based. In two of the photos, she wears her mother’s floral, orange house-gown in the house she grew up – appearing downtrodden, carrying laundry. Another shows her dressed to the nine’s on a business call down a street in Barbican alongside an adjacent shot of her heavily pregnant, barefoot in the kitchen. Dim lighting, eyes full of worry. She told us that she still trying to find a balance in London: 

“It’s a struggle, even here. It’s this role that men and woman are suppose to have. These roles have been instilled in us since we were young.” 

See more of Wendy’s work here.