The last assignment in Identity and Place and it proved to be a lot harder than I anticipated. After a couple of false starts, I finally settled on revisiting and building on work I started in Assignment 4 on the theme of love and loss. The idea was to develop it using the ways that people try to hold onto people that have gone, people who are part of their past and heritage. There is a market in memorial benches, particularly in seaside towns, where the bench is adorned with a brass plaque with the name and dates of the deceased. Often these are also used as shrines with flowers and plants or small items attached to them.
Personally I have no desire or need to have a particular place to go to connect with my parents who are both now gone. However, I realise that some do need a concrete something in order to stay connected to their heritage and the person that they loved whether it is a parent or a child. I was interested to read the inscriptions, find out who these people are and what they might mean to me. From that, I looked at the issue of flowers that are attached by various means. The experiment of taking my bunch to use on each bench did not work as I expected, neither did attaching a photo of flowers. There was something missing. I realised that what was missing was the human connection.
I have always loved going through my mother’s photo album with the black and white photos of people long gone. By re-photographing some of them and adding them along with my photographs of the flowers as they decayed leant a different aspect to the plaque. It humanised it and gave it substance, even if they are not the actual person named. Photoshop was a good tool even if my use is very basic. I blended the flowers, photograph and name plaque into one image and then drew delicate threads over the top. In this way, the three elements link together and bind them to the present. To link them together as a series, I sewed them into the album and added the scanned flower in between as a guide from one to the other.
The flowers represent the then and now, they are fresh but they die and then we replace them in an attempt to keep them going in the same way that we try to keep the memory alive. The memories are who we are, where we came from and ultimately where we are going, born in one place until we go on to the final place.