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Dominica

In Focus: Dominica’s unravelling tale captured by Michael Lees

Michael Lees is a British-Dominican filmmaker and photographer whose vast portfolio explores human connection, nature and Caribbean identity. Drawing inspiration from his home island, Dominica, Lees captures pure moments from Carnival celebrations, stylised shoots to more candid portraits and lushes jungles to climate change, all centring around the theme of Dominica’s evolving landscape and communities, documenting and confronting to socio-environmental issues such as global warming and neo colonialism.

In 2020, Lees released his debut documentary, Uncivilized, which led him into the forests of Dominica, where he would face Hurricane Maria alone in a palm leaf and bamboo hut. The film has screened at festivals around the Caribbean and at international festivals such as the Brooklyn Film Festival and The Pan-African Film Festival in LA. It won the Caribbean Spirit Award in 2020 at the Barbados Independent Film Festival, He’s written, shot, and edited for clients ranging from Billboard to UNICEF, and exhibited in Dominica, regionally & in the UK.


“Getting Ready”
Moving Back, Looking Forward series.

This series is meditation on how we picked ourselves up after the catastrophe of Category 5 Hurricane Maria, slowly but steadily piecing our lives back together, moving back to what remained of our homes while looking forward both to brighter days ahead, and to getting “back” to our old lives. Natural disasters are a fact of life in the Caribbean… unfortunately with the climate crisis, there will surely be more to come.
“Unfinished Process”
Appropriate theme for stepping into the new decade ✨
Dominica Carnival 2019
Young Sensay, Old Mas, Newtown Dominica
The word Sensay comes from the Ghanian word ‘senseh’, which In the Twi language a bird boasting spiritual qualities.Traditionally, Sensay costumes were made of sisal rope, derived from natural fibres of the agave sisalana plant.Today, they are made from crocus bags, banana leaves, frayed rope and cloth, with a mask and cow horn headpieces
Featured here is a young Sensay masquerading in Dominica’s Old Mas taken in 2019…

“Not Alone”
Was feeling particularly cooped up at home that day, decided to explore somewhere new…Found myself at the never completed “Dolphin Resort” near Salisbury.
“Last House on the Left” taken after Category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2017. If you look closely, the Trois Pitons mountains which are usually green are completely barren. 170mph winds will do that. That whole 2 years was a completely surreal experience that now is starting to feel like a distant dream. The photographs help serve as a reminder.
When we’re gone, what will we leave behind?
Macoucherie Playing Field #1
From the Moving Back, Looking Forward series 2021

When I was a kid this field was one of THE hearts of cricket in Dominica. Being more of a footballer, I’d sneak onto the field when it was quiet to practice kickups and play around with friends.

After Tropical storm Erica, the field was flooded, and again with Cat 5 Hurricane Maria. Now cows graze quietly as castor plants take up new space.

1st edition print of limited run available on my website michaellesmedia.com (link in bio)

23.5” x 35.5”
Printed on matte paper, framed in 1.5” black frame, glass, and 2” mat, ready to hang.
Moving Back, Looking Forward series.

Follow Michael on social media >

✽ Instagram

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