Left Behind

During my research for this exhibition I spoke to a local undertaker who remarked that some families agonise over what to bury with a departed member, while others argue about who among the living gets to keep it. Do we send them off with all their worldly goods, or are their riches only for other mortals? This led me to ask myself whether our intangible possessions of the dead — our memories of them — become frozen in our minds, eternal and unchanging. Or perhaps they present us something of a paradox: the days-old baby whose eighteenth anniversary is marked with a graveside contradiction of balloons welcoming them to adulthood — tied onto a newly-deposited infant's toy.

In this work I look at mementos and gifts besides memorials. What symbols of the former identity and personality are left there? What do we give to our loved ones when we visit them? What do they say back to us?

I chose to work with a medium format film camera, mounted on a tripod, using manual metering. As a result each photograph was deliberate and slow to compose and execute, and so became a meditative experience at each commemorative site. All exposures were made on Ilford HP5 Plus film and processed in Rollei High Contrast document developer to give a lith-like quality to the prints.

This project was featured in the Encountering Corpses Art Exhibition alongside works by Paul Koudounaris, Sue Fox, and a collective of local artists.

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