Working from photos has been a big part of my practise for many years, but they are normally old photos and primarily from my family archive. Recording my Mum’s home was really the first time I had used photographs as a tool to create an archive, because in hindsight, that is exactly what i did. I was aware I was making a body of work but as it was such a personal one the idea of making it public wasn’t one that I considered at the time.
I began taking images with my phone initially. But on one visit I sat and looked through my Mum’s collection of photograph albums and what struck me was the (mostly) dreadful quality of them. Predominantly taken by my Dad (who died 25 years ago) using his Kodak 110 camera (you have to be of a certain age to know what one of those is without looking it up). However, I found this poor quality strangely comforting. These weren’t staged, carefully composed images; they were lovingly taken, hurriedly taken images aimed at capturing his family and surroundings with little regard for how the final photograph, when it came back a week later from the developers, would look.
I began to think how I could capture that through the images I was taking, to maybe try and capture some of that sense of comfort, of immediacy, and most of all ‘poor’ quality. The camera on my phone just didn’t produce images that had this feeling to them; they had too much detail. I considered buying an old 110 camera to use but the practicalities of having to send the film away just seemed too long winded at a time when I felt I was running out of time.
Instant photos seemed a possibility and after some research I made the decision to invest in a Lomo Instant camera. I took about 150 photos using this new toy and so glad I did. The images it produced gave me a semblance of the immediacy of a digital camera but with the intimacy I was looking for that I had found in old family photographs.
My Mum’s artificial flower arrangements became a particular focus. A flower arrangement in every room. Each carefully arranged and selected for the colour scheme with vases and jugs chosen to complement and contain.
Most of the contents of my Mum’s home had to be got rid of; sold, given away, sent to charity shops, with only her very special things either taken to the Care Home so she could have them in her room, or stored by myself or one of my sibling’s.
Every one of her arrangements came back to my studio, where they are still. They became the inspiration for the project title ‘Making Arrangements’; a play on the words; the act of flower arranging and of me making the arrangements to empty my Mum’s home.