Autumn is my favourite season – the changing colour of the leaves adding some warmth to early morning mist, the crackle the leaves make under my feet once the sun begins to heat up the cooler days a little. The woods are darker though, with long shadows and the carpets of leaves hide the tangled network of roots waiting to trip the unwary. Often best to look down rather than around, especially with my current eyesight problem – yet another sign of ageing that continually reminds me that time is passing.
There’s something about looking down as I’m walking, though, that takes me into my inward eyes, those eyes that see into the past as well as the present and future. I lost my roots somehow when my parents died – thirty years ago this year but it often seems like only yesterday. I was ‘orphaned’ suddenly and consecutively, within six weeks, and still feel angry and bereft. I remember thinking, “But, I haven’t finished with them yet!” A strange thing to say but I knew what I meant.
Assignment 2 rounds off reading and exercises on the archive and the found image in digital culture – a culture that my parents never got the chance to experience. Knowing them, I think they would have relished it. My intention at the moment is to create a work that uses my archive of photographs and letters. I’ve been approaching this slowly, mainly because my problem with seeing has affected my concentration and also confidence but additionally I’ve been aware that I’ve been circling around the project. Indeed, I’ve been circling around the idea at least since September 2011 when I specifically went back to Sheffield and Derbyshire to ‘re-connect’; to reconnect with those places and times that were instrumental in informing my sense of myself and my personal identity.
Of course, I have been absorbed in the reading about archives and seeing how artists have responded to them. I have to acknowledge though that I’ve experienced some fears around working with personal, historical material. Do I really want to test my memory; re-experience grief of what’s lost and let go; accept that the past doesn’t exist except in my memory. Writing this now I realise the weight of all that accumulation and that it’s been important for me to approach the project slowly and cautiously. I’m nearly ready now though.