There's a painting on my bedroom wall, which I can often be found staring at, because although it's not of a place I've been to, it reminds me of a view I stood before in 2008. I have no photographs of that poignant place or that vulnerable time. Now I think back, I may have destroyed them....Deleted some, if not most, of them; critical of my photographic efforts, (or obvious lack of them), to capture my present scenery.
irony is I'm a photographer's daughter. My father is a master of
documenting history and those otherwise forgettable moments, (he
never goes anywhere without a camera or a dog, or both), whereas I
prefer to keep my images preserved in memory. Bottled tadpoles,
swimming in gin and lined up in rows on musty shelves. The camera has
always been an extension of him, but it pulls me away from
experiencing the here and now; catapults my self-awareness back, even
if I'm not in the shot, and more so if I have to take it.
those instances when I want to remember, when I want to make a
memorable mental picture, I use my sensory receptors like a butterfly
net to catch it and screw it tight in a jam jar. Imprisoned, it, at
first, flutters horribly, beating its wings against the glassed
walls, until exhausted it sinks to the floor and settles, so that by
the time it's doused in watered-down gin, it's quite tranquil.
unlike butterflies, captured and contained in this way don't die or
drown. They regress to a chrysalis and await their developing moment:
their repeated re-release, where they project their flickering
shadows around the brain's chambers and generate, in their person,
reminiscence or nostalgia. Their repetitive finger puppet shows fills
in the interludes, the fragments of inactive time.
form of recall, for me, can often be overwhelming; saturated in a
sensation that no photograph can return me to. I can walk the inside
of a house from memory, smell and taste food, transport myself
instantly to that beach or garden. There doesn't have to be a
trigger, it's just there.
camera, on the other hand, has not always been kind to this
photographer's daughter, and neither sometimes has the photographer.
“Stand there!...Smile!...Turn this way!...One more!...Move over!”
Stiffened poses, forced smiles...until a very human, hunched and
grimacing splodge, particularly during those awkward teenage years,
imprints itself in front of a glorious background. But despite my own
botched attempts to be in or take a picture, I do see the artistry in
photography. I marvel at what that precious eye in a single blink can
capture. What must it feel like to possess that! I curse my
short-sight; blame it for my blurred focus and grainy vision.
do not possess that kind of skill, despite my admiration. Words are
my pictures, yet often it's pictures that inspire them. Go figure!
And yes, memories, as with photographs, can be deceiving. There's a
touch of fabrication. Memories can be made idyllic and photos can be
airbrushed. Yet when I stand before the Shore with Red House, the
floodgates open, even though I know it's of the artist's summer house
in Aasgaardstrand, Norway, and not of Sausalito in California,
that's where it takes me.
standing on the harbour side-walk looking towards the jetty; in front
of me the sea meets sky and my feet meet pastel-tinted rock
formations. The late afternoon's colouring is still relatively light
and warm. I dawdle, taking time on my own, away from my other
day-coach-trippers, and consider how this setting is too perfect. The
hillside combines so neatly with the shoreline, while the air is
refreshing, and yet placid. A single, white, lone female records a
potent memory of this picturesque San Francisco Bay Area city.
what does this prove? That my memory is both infallible and very
guilty of association.