Working as a filmmaker and a photographer, for the longest time, I have always wanted my home to be image free – sometimes having images up on the wall reminded too much of work when what I was really looking for was quiet.
Many years ago – 18 years ago to be precise – I started working on a project called “Home is Where the Heart Is”. This project recorded my transition from living with my parents (I moved back when my step-dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer) and moving into my own home after both my parents died, less than a year apart. The exhibition contained photographs of my elderly parents, of myself , of the rooms in their home and recorded the progress of renovating my first home, which was a wreck when I bought it.
As part of a therapeutic process, I painted the entire house everything – floors, ceilings, walls and doors – white as if preparing a canvas. I then went on to paint almost every wall in the house a different colour, celebrating this new chapter in my life, which came with it both with freedoms and challenges of its own.
In the 7 years that had passed, I had several different exhbitions and continued to make colourful photographs. When it came to moving on, I repainted the house white again, making it more appealing to a buyer. Leaving that flat, I wrapped up all my artwork and in this new house, I decided to wrap up all my artwork and my walls continued to be blank, something that mystified friends who knew about the artwork I had made.
I’ve moved several times since then and each time, I have carefully transported my artwork to each new place and last year it ended up in the loft, completely out of reach. I had started focusing on filmmaking a lot more and felt I’d lost my connection to photography, to a certain extent.
When a niggling, nagging sensation continued to irritate me for the last 6 months, I decided to get my artwork down from the loft and finally I managed to do it and it was like I was hit with a bolt of lightning – unwrapping this artwork I felt feverishly excited and as I carelessly laid the photographs out, I was filled with joy! All these beautiful colours and shapes intensified in my bare-walled rooms! The generosity of these images – which both belong to me but also exist independently of me – filled me with so much warmth and this shocked me. Such positive energy and I had kept this from myself – from others – for so long!
I was reminded of what I loved so much when I was younger – the power of colours, the simplicity of photographing what I saw, without manipulating it (or at least with minimal manipulation – photography is always a manipulation of our senses) and the raw energy of being honest. These were difficult photographs to take – for lots of different reasons – but today I am full of energy simply because I slept last night surrounded by these photographs.
I reconnected with a deep part of me that I simply didn’t realise I was missing – and when I did realise what I was missing, I was almost too intimidated to do anything about it.
Often we don’t look back at what we’ve achieved and when we don’t do this, we forget what these things have meant to us, how they’ve shaped us. 18 years on, I am hugely proud of these photographs – and many others that I’ve taken – and I almost forgot that. I almost forgot that I am shaped by these photographs, by my interactions with others, by the intention behind the photographs and the work I do. I always want to honestly connect and as a photographer – filmmaker – artist – I have been doing this less and less consciously over the years.
I love the work that I do on a daily basis and sometimes I underestimate how much it means to me and to others. I don’t value what I contribute to my community and I don’t go looking for someone else to value it yet recently I’ve been surprised by how happy 3 different clients have been with the work I’ve done and it’s maybe because I’ve taken what I do for granted, I’ve not valued it enough. I enjoy what I do but I didn’t feel particularly challenged by recent projects and I like a challenge because it gives the opportunity to do more, to do better. I realise now that I wasn’t challenging myself enough either.
This year I aim to change it – I already have by bringing these photographs into my life again. Seeing them inspires me to do more, to use my “voice” in whatever form that takes.
Above all else, this year (and for the rest of my life) I want to be as creative as possible. I have went back to the source of what makes my heart burst with energy and happiness – and it’s lovely!
It’s easy in a world as busy and complex and demanding as ours to disconnect to our natural source of energy that sustains us. I feel I disconnected last year, particularly because it was a busy and difficult year that sapped my energy. I also felt fearful, both on a personal and a global scale, because of all the political shifts and the implications that they have for us all that 2016 has showered us with. I also was made so aware of my own mortality by all the celebrity (and non-celebrity) deaths reported in the media. At a fundamental level, it reminded me about what’s the most important things in my life – friends and family and making new connections through my creativity. I aim to reconnect, on a daily basis, by having all these photographs all over my home and enjoy seeing them again.
What makes your heart sing? What drives you to do better every day at work or at home with your family and friends? Is there something that excites you that you used to do that you’ve somehow managed to forget about? Get in that loft, dig out something from under your bed or pull out that old notebook – remember and celebrate what drives you, what makes you happy!
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