Today we had to clear out my mother’s house in Suffolk, where she had been living for the last 4 years before she was diagnosed. It was sad going back there, seeing the place she had been living before all this happened, and where I know she had been really happy. She created a very nice life up there and was by far the happiest I had ever seen her. It was perhaps saddest going there for me, than her Camden house, as there are only good memories in Suffolk, there is not really any connections with her illness, unlike Camden where every room brings on another bad memory for me. In Suffolk I just see this lovely place she was living in and surrounded with all her friends, and it makes it all more upsetting and unfair that she has gone.
It’s been a weird few weeks. My first birthday without her, moving out of my flat and back to her home in Camden, showing my book to many picture editors and trying to get the work published while still finding it hard to look at the images of my mum, and now getting ready to go traveling for a few weeks on my own.
I’ve tried to start shooting whats going on in my head. Like every morning when I lie on my bed staring out the window or ceiling thinking her, perhaps the only ‘quiet’ time I get in the day. Yesterday I tried to shoot the emptiness I feel inside. Today I took some shots at my mum’s place, the final ones for Tulip maybe…
Its time for a new project, well a follow on anyway. The next ‘Tulip‘ project (have yet to think of a name), will not be about my mum’s death, instead this book would look at her life and my journey through her life, retracing her history
It is the food aspect that I want to concentrate on. In Tulip, I used images of mum’s flowers to lead the story, so in the same manner, in this second book I want the food to be the recurring theme. She had a fascinating life, so the food imagery will be interwoven with text, revealing her life-story (told by myself, friends and family met along the way) and complemented by my conceptual photographic journey in which I retrace her life.
My mum was brought up in LA and New York, so that’s where I will start (Arrive in LA on 1st Feb!). My grandparents moved to America when she was 7 years old, when my grandfather was posted there by the Daily Mirror. Coming from post-war Britain, at a time when rations were still in force, she spoke fondly of the mass of fresh and abundant food on offer. America influenced her greatly and I feel this is a good starting point. I remember my dad describing her, when they first met in London, as the girl with the American accent and cowboy boots, who liked to pile her food up high.
Here is a nice article I found recently about my mum, Sue Miles’ cooking:
Along side this project, which is probably going to be more of a commercial project than Tulip was, I want to also document a more conceptual side of dealing with grief. I see this as a smaller book, something with lots of mood like images describing what the feelings and emotions are like you feel. I remember reading an illustrated book about grief just after she died and I remember it helped me to see that other people are feeling the same things. Like guilt, I never realised it is a very common emotion after someone close has died, I just thought I had done things wrong and that is why I felt like that. It would be nice if a photography book could help people in someway. I have always been a fan of the Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi. I like the way she captures moments and abstract things, though some of the images could be seen as a little cold, I am hoping to create a bit messier and warmer images. I want to use abstract images that reflect the abstract things going on in my head, and using words along side too.
What I like about Kawauchi work is she captures abstract moments, and that is kind of like how I see grief. It is like little abstract moments all day long. I am constantly being reminded of my mum, whether it is the smell of a certain coffee she used to drink, or the smell of fresh Thyme, these always will remind me of her, and bring on varied emotions. Smell is such a strong sence, it beings back memories so much more that anything else, I feel. Someone was wearing the same perfume as my mum the other day and it was like I was back in her room, very strange. Music does the same to me too, brings you right back to that moment. Strangely photography doesn’t do that to me. Looking at a photograph of an event does not bring back memories, not like smell or sound do. I would like to find a way to convey these emotions that are created by other senses in a visual way…we will see.
Some of Rinko Kawauchi’s work:
Click this link to see my book Tulip.
Hello 2011. First post of the year, slowly getting back into normal work mode.
One of my many new year resolutions is to take more pictures, not more clicks just more actual photographs I can use. I thought I would start a ‘Photo of the Day’, thus encouraging me to keep up the shooting and blog updates (though it may end up being more like Photo of the Week). So here is the first, sorry it’s pretty cheesy but couldn’t resist the old rainbow.