Punctum II: Locale

18 Jan
image for my upcoming exhibition 'In Plain Sight'

Image for my upcoming exhibition ‘In Plain Sight’

In May I will present my first solo photography exhibition, ‘In Plain Sight’. While finalising the list of works which will be on display is still some way off, I’ve been dipping into my archive of images from the last decade, revisiting photos I haven’t looked at in years (and in some instances, ever). Naturally, not everything was conceived with any artistic view – photographers and artists are as likely to take candid snapshots for personal consumption as anyone else. But in doing so, I must take a journey back to when and where many of the images were taken. There are thematically linked works around death and hurt – some will be shared, some will not. But at times, even the most aesthetically pleasing and happy image has cause to wound me – for every image hides a story.

Three years ago, physically sick with stress, and trapped in a space with no heating and only my dog for company, I packed up the last of my things and formally walked out on everything that made me unhappy and began on the real and metaphorical road to recovery and healing. There are images created during the worst days of my life which are among those I am proud of – moments of inspiration, visual notes for projects not yet begun.

The memories stirred by images may hurt, but the images themselves cannot – they record what was, not what is, not what will be.

Just as meaning can be placed upon a two dimensional image, a representation of a past reality, so too then can meaning be placed upon three dimensional spaces – actual present embodiment of past reality. Unlike images, spaces live and combine visuals with audio and aromatic cues. The combination can be overwhelming, and a much surer way to put one back mentally into a previous life experience. Where trauma existed in those spaces, a revisitation can be catastrophic.

I believe in constantly creating new memories, new images, new associations. Life is organic, transitional, evolving.

Cycling through County Down today I found myself whizzing along a route that used to form my daily commute. A road which led to unhappy memories. And yet I found myself content in the quiet countryside, exhilarated with the exercise, surprisingly safe in the space. I allowed myself to recall the reasons I was attracted to moving out here in the first place, the days of solitude that brought temporary serenity to me.

Over the last decade I have turned some of my worst days into positive ones by saddling up and setting forth on two wheels by my own steam throughout the Northern Irish countryside. Often with my camera secure in my panniers. Rather than feelings of fear, oppression, I clicked with the joy of escapism, revitalised. Out of the lion of the past came forth honey.

And so I return to my images, my photos, and my memories, and with the confirmation of experience, I am not afraid.

A biographer or family historian of the future may see my (or your) photos, and make connections, assumptions, interpretations. Perhaps they see something there that means nothing to you, or perhaps they hit upon some thread that you bury in your subconscious. Why has the photographer returned to a scene of trauma? Is it because they are looking for answers, unfinished business perhaps? Or is it simply because the past is no longer poisoned, and a new book has begun?

Annadorn Dolmen - Jan 2016

Annadorn Dolmen – Jan 2016


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