Possessions

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Le Corbusier thought of houses as machines for living. Mine is more of a cupboard. I’m a hoarder – there I’ve said it! – I have major problems letting go of things. I came up with the idea of photographing objects before I get rid of them so that I can continue to own them in a virtual sense. I would continue to possess the object through the photograph but the irony is that this process would lead to the creation of another object.

I started with the idea of photographing everything in my house. I am going to start with the kitchen tomorrow but the thought is quite daunting due to the enormous number of items. I may get bored with the repetition but the process of unveiling and organizing may spur me on. I think of the process as being like an archaeologist studying remnants from the past and aiming to reconstruct the lives of the people they represent. I’ve done some reading about Howard Carter’s opening up of Tutankhamen’s tomb. I don’t expect to find gold and jewels but I do anticipate finding evidence of my personal history, clues to the past and affirmation of the present, where I want to be right now.

I am going to experiment with the documenting objects idea and will see where it takes me. I started the process last year by compiling an inventory in a spreadsheet of objects on the coffee table. I found that it made me really look at the things around me and helped me decide which items to keep, which to recycle and which to discard. Visual means could aid that process.

I have thought of various ways to photograph the things. Digital is the most obvious as it is instant, fast and cheap but I hanker after film. In the summer while staying at my Dad’s house I played with a disposable camera. I started by taking pictures in the park on St Giles’ Hill as it reminds me of my mother who went into a care home on the 23 August. I then began to take pictures of the chair she used in the bathroom but rather than photograph it in situ I took it out into the garden and aimed to capture strong shadows and geometric shapes. Framing was challenging through the tiny plastic lens but I like the filmic look as it seems appropriate to the subject.

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I continued with photographs of objects in the bedroom I stay in while in Winchester. Things my mother has chosen but relegated to a bedroom.

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I’ve thought of working my way round my parents’ house but, rather than construct an inventory, I would like to select things that have resonance for me. I will aim to build up a collection of those photographs during my weekly visits to Winchester.

While living in here in Wanborough, I will continue the work on my own home.

‘Wayfinding’

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Ordnance Survey grid references and Global Positioning Satellite coordinates are two complementary ways to locate oneself in urban and rural environments. I am using both systems to chart a section of the Ridgeway that I regard as home ground, the route from Liddington Castle, an ancient hill fort, to the more easterly Charlbury Hill. The trigonometric points at both locations act as boundaries between which I have identified points of interest such as objects and structures, both temporary and more enduring, that characterize the area. Through attributing waypoints (electronic pinpoints) to these features, I am constructing a personal map of the space.

‘Still Me’ Exhibition 20-24 June The Old Truman Brewery

I am showing a series of self-portraits that explore the impact of breast cancer and its treatment on body image and concept of self in the Free Range Photography Degree Show at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London from 20 to 24 June.

The photographs were stimulated by impending hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Initially, I experienced sadness and apprehension but as I experimented through the medium of photography, I began to engage with broader issues such as temporality and permanence; fitness and frailty; serenity and spirituality; beauty and disfigurement represented by the symbols and personae I adopted and assumed. The process encouraged openness, acceptance and a sense of playfulness.

I shall be in the gallery from 10 to 4 on Monday 24 June. It would be good to see you there.