Project e-ma* is inspired by the Japanese shin-tou (神道) tradition which uses wooden tablets; e-ma (絵馬), as a means of recording wishes and hopes for one's self, one's family, or one's community. Rather like a physical manifestation of a Western 'new year's resolution' e-ma are a tool to facilitate mindfulness and hope, and to bring communities together for a common purpose.
Initially started in 1998 whilst Andrew was a master's degree student of photography at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) the project has always focused on employing e-ma to explore the multiplicitous nature of identity, and community.
Shin-tou is not a religion, it has no gods in the Judeo-Christian sense, what it has are kami (神) lit: divine spirits who dwell in the natural environment. As a non-sectarian, areligious practice it should not be confused with religious faith or worship. In light of this, people from all faiths, religious and spiritual persuasions are able to freely engage with project e-ma. Indeed, this was a fundamental prerequisite of this research's early development in Belfast - a city where religious conflict and strife caused more than thirty years of bloodshed.
*Project e-ma is copyright ARWoollock 2013, all rights reserved. Legal and intellectual property rights have been asserted.