Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 20 2018 01:00PM

Last year, I blogged about Alejandra Carles-Tolra, a young Spanish photographer, based in London, who had won a competitive grant to photograph Jane Austen fans.

Carles-Tolra’s photo essay, “Where We Belong,” is now finished. Twenty-one photos are available on her website, and a selection accompanied a recent article in the Guardian about her subject: the Jane Austen Pineapple Appreciation Society, a smallish band of British Janeites, most of them female, who met a few years ago at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England, and now get together regularly to dress in Regency clothing and do Austen-y things.

The JAPAS – I still don’t get the whole pineapple thing, but perhaps a commenter can enlighten me – was founded by Sophie Andrews, a Janeite who blogs at Laughing with Lizzie and is also a featured “ambassador” for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation. *

Carles-Tolra’s photos -- which show JAPAS members strolling, napping, and leaping, Lizzy Bennet-like, over a gate in a verdant field -- aim to explore “themes of belonging, femininity and escapism” in this “community of like-minded people,” she writes.

I’ll leave it to the photography critics to decide how expertly Carles-Tolra presents those themes. For the rest of us, it’s fun to catch the allusions – check out her Regency-costumed version of Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World” – and ogle the beautiful gowns.

* The literacy foundation was established by collateral Austen descendant Caroline Jane Knight, a member of the last generation to grow up at Chawton House, down the road from the Hampshire cottage where Austen wrote or revised all six of her finished novels.

By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 30 2017 02:00PM

An intriguing tidbit popped up recently on my Jane Austen Google alert: Alejandra Carles-Tolra, a young Spanish photographer based in London, recently won a £10,000 prize that will allow her to create a photo essay about – us!

“Carles-Tolra proposed investigating how a group identity impacts on the individual via photographs of ‘Janeites’, a community formed around the world and works of Jane Austen,” the British Journal of Photography reports. Her project, along with those of the other two winners of the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, will be exhibited in three locations around Britain starting next January.

In past years, Carles-Tolra, originally from Barcelona, has created photographic projects on motorbike riders, female rugby players, and college students enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), among other subjects.

What do Janeites and rugby players have in common? I can’t wait to find out. . .

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