Winter 2012/2013, Cambados, Spain. Clam diggers photographed from O Serrido, Mar Cuervo, Audiovisual Library of the European Commission, CC BY-NC-ND

The Sereas (Mermaids) series puts women in the spotlight, highlighting their strength and role as pillars of the key economic activity of a fishing town in the north-west of Spain. To carry out this project, Spanish photographer Mar Cuervo joined a fishing community on the north-west coast of her home country for three months to get to know an all-female community of clam diggers and document their everyday lives. Her Sereas series uncovers the techniques of an activity deeply ingrained in the region’s tradition, passed on from generation to generation. The artist is giving us a glimpse of a different part of the trade typically dominated by male workers.  

The tradition of clam digging is rooted in the geographical specifics of this northern region of Spain which doesn’t border the Mediterranean but has a unique maritime climate. In the local fishing villages, women (known as mariscadoras) have been rolling up their sleeves generation after generation to search for clams. For a long time, women have carried out clam digging exclusively (in this case, women are a majority in the largely male-dominated arena of fisheries).

These women are known for their strength and independence, as well as for being fighters. They are natural born leaders whose history has showed how pride and self-satisfaction can lead to a profound sense of identity.

By putting equal opportunities between genders in general and at work in particular at the forefront, the European Pillar of Social Rights aims to promote and guarantee equal opportunities for men and women across Europe.

About the artist:

Currently residing in Amsterdam, Mar Cuervo is a purpose-driven Spanish photographer, with experience in journalism and arts. Having a PhD in both gender studies and fine arts, her work perfectly delivers representations of women’s empowerment and adds a dimension of social dialogue and insight.

Winter 2012/2013, Cambados, Spain. A clam digger’s shed, Mar Cuervo, Audiovisual Library of the European Commission, CC BY-NC-ND
Winter 2012/2013, Cambados, Spain. A clam digger’s shed, Mar Cuervo, Audiovisual Library of the European Commission, CC BY-NC-ND
Winter 2012/2013, Cambados, Spain. Clam diggers photographed from O Serrido, Mar Cuervo, Audiovisual Library of the European Commission, CC BY-NC-ND
Winter 2012/2013, Cambados, Spain. Clam diggers photographed from O Serrido, Mar Cuervo, Audiovisual Library of the European Commission, CC BY-NC-ND