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.
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.
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.