Michelle grew up in a Latvian immigrant community in South Africa during apartheid and left in 1978 finally settling in the UK in 1987. Michelle cites this background as informing her interest in sub-cultures and people living on the edge of society. Her finely crafted portraits meld place and person, creating sociological, visual and psychological stories. She receives numerous commissions and residencies from international galleries and organisations. Her interest in young people and the issues they face is sensitively explored in portrait series such as Young Carers and In My Skin.
For SIXTEEN Michelle concentrates on one of the UK’s poorest counties, Cornwall, weaving together the light and colour of the south-west landscape with local sixteen year olds’ portraits. ‘When I encounter people I wish to photograph I feel a sense of wonderment about them’ she says.