R&R

Spending time away with the family this week with a return to Cyprus. Never too far from the camera though and always wanting to capture what I see around me.

During today’s trip to Polis Beach I immediately clocked the remnants of a concrete machine gun bunker listing into the sea. More likely a left over of the Second World War rather than of the 1974 Turkish invasion.

My obsession with this dark corner of Cypriot history keeps growing and I have a tremendous urge to visit and explore the Northern ‘occupied territory’. High on my list to visit is the city of Nicosia. As the last city on earth to have a wall and duel occupancy, it has an allure to me to document the aftermath of a war which is still felt nearly five decades later.

What we leave behind

In recent weeks I was asked to help prepare a showreel for a family members funeral. Although I would have met him sometime ago as a child I don’t actively remember meeting him, although have some memories of meeting his wife.

The lady was my great aunty Barbara and the deceased family member in turn my great uncle. Barbara is one of my fathers mothers 8 siblings with 8 girls and the one boy. Unfortunately only three are still alive.

The importance of this post is in the images. I recognise some faces but not many. It brings us to reflect upon the fact that once we have left this world, all that really survives us are the photographs which map out our lives. Mostly of happy memories of family gatherings or events. Even once those who are living now are gone, those images if still around, will be all that stands to remember them by. These people lived.

How do you photograph a funeral?

In British culture we seem very averse to showing emotion or embracing and remembering that part of our life – death.

On this topic, one of my university lecturers spoke of a time she was asked to photograph a Sikh funeral. Despite her reluctance and the families persistence she eventually did. The purpose was not to document a families pain but to celebrate the life of the departed.

I feel British funerals, whether they’re agnostic or Christian, are not yet at the point of being open to the presence of a camera at a funeral.

Today we say farewell and lay to rest Joan Stevens. Joan, being my wife’s nan who practically raised her, was also my children’s last surviving great grandparent. Being something of a hobbyist florist, my mother-in-law wanted to prepare the flowers. This became a family occasion and a chance to start celebrating the life we will gather to remember later today.

The last photograph

The photograph below was taken of my wife’s nan, Joan Stevens, a week before she passed away.  The image was taken in the hospice where she passed only a week later.  The image continues my photographic exploration.  Today we put her to rest.

The image was taken using a Zero Image 2000 pinhole camera, Ilford Pan F 50 film and a 30 minute exposure.

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24 Redbridge Grove

Art Photobook number four is a bit more personal again and revolves around the miniseries ‘24 Redbridge Grove’. This series of images is part of an ongoing, but not yet published, photo essay, ‘Life Death and Photography’.

The overall goal is to study the human temporality and the role photography has to play in our memories and our experience.

‘24 Redbridge Grove’ contains images from my paternal grandparents family home over 10 years after Nan had passed away and shortly before Grandad moved from here to residential living. The images look at the signs of a life that was as well as a home greatly in need of some TLC and new life.

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Next up binding

Again with its personal nature I wanted my father to see this work for himself before it being published.

10 Paignton Avenue

Art Photobook number three is a bit more personal and revolves around the miniseries ‘10 Paignton Avenue’. This series of images is part of an ongoing, but not yet published, photo essay, ‘Life Death and Photography’.

The overall goal is to study the human temporality and the role photography has to play in our memories and our experience.

‘10 Paignton Avenue’ contains images from my maternal grandparents family home shortly after their deaths and before being sold. The images look at the signs of a life that was as well as a home greatly in need of some TLC and new life.

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Next up the binding!

Given the personal nature of this weeks book I wanted to give a copy to my mother and do it before the publishing of social media posts. Although a series of images she had seen before, seeing them again in this formation was definitely different for her

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10 Paignton Avenue

As part of an on going exploration of the relation between Life, Death and Photography, Andrew photographed the partially cleared home of his late grandparents.

The exploration, in this case, sought to document areas that trigger personal memories. From the living room where the whole family would cram in to for Christmas present opening to the chair the cousins would fight over.

Further to these personal memories come elements which all of us can connect with on a level. The difference between a worn carpet compared to where the bed once stood. The decay as part of a house which was a struggle to keep. The garden which was once a center of great pride, sitting unloved and rotting.