Skip to content

Peter Ash Lee

The Last Mermaid
마지막 인어

July 18 - August 15, 2024

Lyle Gallery is proud to announce a new exhibition by photographer Peter Ash Lee, running from July 18 - August 15, 2024. Titled The Last Mermaid, this exhibition presents an exploration of the lives and legacy of the Haenyeo, a remarkable group of women divers from Jeju Island.

In December of 2018, Peter Ash Lee embarked on a journey to Jeju Island, where he had the privilege of photographing the Haenyeo. For over two thousand years, these fearless women have dived into the sea, harvesting seafood to sustain their families and preserve the cultural heritage of their island. The Haenyeo embody the strength and resilience of Jeju's semi-matriarchal family structure, challenging traditional gender norms as the primary breadwinners in a historically male-dominated society.

Through Lee's lens, we witness the powerful connection between the Haenyeo and their environment, as well as the intimate moments shared with one of the youngest Haenyeo, who refers to herself as "the last mermaid." Her story, deeply rooted in a three-generation legacy of diving, highlights the precarious future of this ancient profession. The demanding nature of their work and the impacts of global warming, which have disrupted marine ecosystems and introduced invasive species, threaten the survival of the Haenyeo's way of life.

This exhibition is a poignant reminder of the far-reaching consequences of climate change on livelihoods and cultures. Peter Ash Lee urges us to protect and cherish the world's diverse cultural heritages and natural wonders. The Haenyeo's unique traditions and wisdom should guide future generations, highlighting their enduring spirit and the urgent need to address the environmental challenges they face.

Peter Ash Lee

Peter Ash Lee is a New York-based photographer and director. Born in Seoul and raised in Toronto, his work is informed by the pursuit of a contemporary standard of beauty that champions diversity and representation. Peter is also the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Burdock, an arts and culture publication celebrating multi-dimensional Asian American experiences. He has worked with commercial and editorial clients including Vogue, The New York Times, T Magazine, i-D, Tom Ford and Dior.