Dust to dust

Studio windowsill; April 2018; Digital C type

Little did I know that this project, and in fact my whole practice, was primed to be about grief and mourning and the stupefying shock of absence.

Suddenly and unexpectedly my Dad died while out on his motorbike. Throughout the unforgiving bafflement of his wake I photographed. The closing shutter satisfied the incessant mental searching. The rush of photographic process defined and structured (my) loss. I drew back from my plans for Shadow Dialling Studio as working with him sat firmly in another life.

Within a fortnight of his funeral I installed an exhibition in CCA that had been planned months before. At the opening night as I watched my three key pieces; Cinders, Dust and  Blue Room shadow maps, I could finally feel connected again.

The Shock of Now; Wake; The Happy Gazebo; B&W hand printed collage; May 2019

I was used to (my) photography being swathed in theory underpinned with references to death , but never this way round, (my fathers) death, my state of grief swathed in theories of photography. I wanted proof of ghosts when he died, I got instead,  proof of photography. I have never been so grateful for it, the medium was all I wanted , or needed to work with.

The original project rapidly reformed and refocused to use and understand the process of photography as a tangible form of mourning and a container/ its containment of grief. Through working with the absence of my Dad rather than with ‘him’, I realised the traumatic, rapid and radical shift in my reality had not shifted Shadow Dialling Studio away from its original core concern. The subject matter has changed but the underpinning ideas were the same. As I re worked the project proposal I knew I needed to make work slowly and in a very solitary way while craving to know how others coped with loss, how did they grieve, how did they mourn. When I was able to formulate what was going on into words I wrote a revised project proposal; “The main works in progress are now in three parts to reflect my sense of folded time; Future, present and past i) Foreboding; ii) The shock of Now; iii) Absent History”.

Absent History; Motorbike trip; Scanned snapshot 1990s

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