Sketches From Home (Random Notes - February 2010)

The ‘Home’ series is a complex interplay between two identities - my sense of self and my rural background - explored through the ‘ritual’ of photography.

(“)…looking, recording, with limitations, again at the world. (“)

This is an ongoing project which has personal and emotive motivations. The word, or concept, ‘Home’ suggests a direction, a place, an origin and a longing to return. In essence this is about the relationship between myself and my background - my sense of self, my memories of home and my search to find my place within it at this point of my life. In the images, there is also a direct relationship between my role as a photographer and my rural background - a delicate and uncomfortable balancing-act between belonging and disassociation. I find myself longing to connect, or reconnect, to the place or with the landscape. Yet, the overriding impression or feeling is one of ‘distance’.

“… living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.”

Seamus Heaney ‘Digging’

Just making my way through Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney. Interesting to note that one of its poems ‘Digging’ is firmly rooted in the type of environment I am trying to deal with. Heaney is trying to grasp, or ‘dig’ into, the real psychological conditions of rural life – to fully comprehend the contradictory impulses and feelings of ambivalence towards his rural origins. The poet does not, of course, physically dig with a shovel or spade, he digs with his pen, into his memories - extracting really visceral words about his fathers' world and his disconnection from it. THese are vivid evocations of rural life, yet it is a setting that he has possibly left behind and one which is slowly fading into memory (note to self: take note of the sense of fading memory in the 'white' triptych). In ‘Digging’ there is a definite balance between feelings of ambition (artistic, or otherwise), and a possible lingering sense of guilt in breaking inherited traditions (of farming). Heaney has chosen the poet’s pen over his father’s spade - the ‘heaven of education’ over ‘the earth of farm labour.’ I find myself easily identifying with the poets position. I want to explore the ‘real’ conditions of my own relationship to rural life. To explore the sense of guilt, of fear, of love, of hatred; to go beyond elemental feelings, beyond any sense of nostalgia and pathos; to find something that feels real to me about the connection and disconnection to what, on the outside, may seem like conflicting identities. I want to bring two worlds I know together, to bring two separate impulses together, and find a broader understanding of my sense of self.
The camera is an ever-attendant associate to my own experiences. It has come to occupy the role of mediator between, for instance, the landscape and my psychological identification with it, between, for instance, my past and my psychological relationship with it. I find myself in a constant search for personal meaning – an identity and a place, and ways to communicate that meaning; even if I am unsure of why I want to do this through the photographic ritual. (What type of photographer am I? ) I am no doubt a mutable creature behind (or in front of) the lens. I adapt my approach to suit the topic or subject matter. I acclimatize to different environments and engage in a constant revision and analysis of my own work. I like to fully conceptualize any project I take on - even if this process takes years to complete. I am interested in exploring the nature of photography in its many different manifestations and find something which challenges me to face the complexities and density of the photographic practice. I like to create work that will maybe challenge the viewer to reconsider the act of photography itself - to see through (my own) aesthetic limitations and maybe feel an identification with the world I know through the images I produce. I strive for a kind of ‘inter-subjectivity’ that transcends words and other ways of knowing.

To see more of the 'Home' Project: