As I am looking at the archive of my own family I was directed to look at Nicky Bird and her project Travelling the Archive (2015-2016). Wendy and I discussed that this would be a great way to start.
Bird’s work showed my techniques that I could use to represent the loss my family still feels in our lives years after the death of my Grandma from Alzheimer’s.
Whilst Bird’s images are composites and also show images from yesteryear displayed to the public in the community they were originally taken in, the images I was creating felt more raw and emotive – Though this is probably because they are my memories.
The images I selected were all treasured family memories, many were from my own house where I still live and this had a big effect. The images had more impact as they featured my Grandma, along with other relatives some of which have also passed away – making it one of the most difficult photography tasks that I have ever carried out.
Like Bird’s work the sites that I visited still resonate and the genealogy links tell a story of not only my past but my family, and the gigantic loss we all felt when we lost of family matriarch.
As with the Family Ties Network, that Bird was involved in I explored the feelings and motivation towards the work I was carrying out.
I feel I wanted to explore Alzheimer’s in a way that respected my Grandma, and in a way that also protected her as when she died she had lost her identity due to the illness so I was very reluctant to share the work as if she no longer knew herself and our family why should I share her identity with those who did not know her. I was adamant and very reluctant as I did not want to exploit vulnerability especially when there was no way to seek permission.
There was also the guilt – when she was alive maybe I didn’t do as much as I should have – even though I was only 15, I should have been more present with her – and this made this piece of work even more difficult and if I shared these images would everyone be able to see that I didn’t do enough? That I should have been a better Grand-Daughter.
This week also came with the news that I no longer have my venue booking for my exhibition due to an administration error and this added to my already over emotional week.