Welcome to my 6th blog on Memories from the Home: I’m (Blog No 5) continuing the theme of sounds in the home; this time Music evoking memory and supporting connections to deceased loved ones.
Action for happiness day May 2020 shared this picture recently and it seemed and appropriate time to share my thoughts about Music and its importance to me, within the context of memory, grief, connection and the family home.
Music has always been an important part of family fun and socialising. My Nan was a keen piano player, playing by ear, ‘on the bontempi‘ as Grandad would always say, as children we would always make up our own radio shows, put on plays, and singing performances for our Grandparents. My family are now in bands.
In organising my Grandparents home after they had died, at the time I didn’t have the storage for their vinyl collection, but knew I wanted to keep it. A lot of the vinyl was the likes of Bing Crosby, other readers digest collections of the time, plus other big band swing music such as ‘Are you listening’ by Harry Roy and His Orchestra -why not have a listen here.
Nan had a great love of big band music, and there was a lot of military bands in their collection, as well as other music that I don’t recognise. Those of you who own Vinyl records know, there is such a beauty in the tangibility of the whole process, taking the vinyl out of the sleeve, ensuring not to touch the surface of the vinyl to ruin it in some way, preparing to play. When I want to listen to them, the process, the action is potentially the same as if when my Grandparents were listening to them. I love the crackle of the vinyl, the little jumps every so often, the gentle whir of the turn table, the click of the resting arm. I don’t recall them listening to this specific album, but I now always have that tangible process to imagine them going through the same actions as me and listening together in their home, perhaps remembering dancing together when they were younger. Through music and the physicality of these objects I am making new meanings and continuing connections explored by such writers as Unruh and Riches & Dawson. The collection is now organised in my home, with those I’m more likely to listen to on display, and others safely stored away.
Do you have a music collection, gifted to you by your loved ones?
If you want to join me on my journey through my PhD research; my focus is expanding towards creativity and how we use creative expression as a way of navigating and exploring grief at home. You can always contact me, if you wish to be involved in my research.
Welcome to my 5th blog on Memories from the Home: this time I’m connecting with sounds in the home.
Clocks are often a present sound in our homes, the grandness of them depending on the house and person. From our mobile phones which are often our music listening devices, as well as alarm clocks, and voice recorders, to Grandfather clocks, wall mountable or little carriage clocks on the mantlepiece. All clocks modern or traditional have identifiable and unique contributions to the sound of the home.
These ticking trinkets, just as the presence of photographs, give us markers in time (as noted by one of my favourite authors John Berger)and a continual reminder of the passing of time.
This wall mounted Abbey Quartz clock belonged to my Grandparents, hanging in their front room, near to the edge of the colour change in the wall paper, just above another symbol of time – that years calendar. This one chimed on the hour, I can’t recall if it had the sound of the ‘tick tock’ pendulum. Looking back on the photograph of it now, I can see (please look closer) that the circle on the pendulum still has the protective film of green on it to stop it getting scratched. It could have been forgotten to have been taken off when hung, or purposely kept on to keep it nice, something I think my Grandparents would have done.
Wall clocks and their ticking and chiming was always that traditional sound I associated most with visiting my Grandparents, they had them for as long as I remember. It prompted me to look through old family photographs of my Grandparents front room with the clock in. I came across this one:
The photo shows a previous clock, in the same spot, sometime in the early 90’s, not too far from the mirror that now sits within my home, and has been symbolic of many reflections throughout my research and in navigating my grief and understanding my continuing connections to my Grandparents. The clock symbolised the rituals when we used to visit them, the time we would arrive, the 12 o’clock chime for their lunch, the chiming for the time for us to catch the bus home. As a child it was something in the background, counting the chimes when they happened.
As I got older and when taking photographs of the clock, I have stopped it in a moment, like the newer clock left after the death of my Grandparents, as if time did stop at that moment, but equally painfully obvious knowing that it continued, but without them. The sound of the chiming became a symbol of living in and being aware of the moment and moments past.
It therefore wasn’t surprising to me the reaction of warmth, I felt when an MA research participant’s clock, that was originally her Fathers, struck during our interview. I became fixed on the sound of the mechanics, sitting peacefully with her listening to the knock of the mechanism, and subsequent chime. I’m glad we paused for a second to listen, appreciating that moment listening to the passing of time together, being captured by my I-phone, please do listen to that recording here. The participant said that her Father would have been happy that the clock and its sound was bringing joy to others in this way.
In Back to the Future III Doc Emmett Brown came back to the future to meet Marty and Jennifer after the DeLorean was destroyed, he said ‘Your future is whatever you make it‘ and how we mark time, moving into the future, and in remembering the past, is individual to each and everyone of us.
If you want to join me on my journey through my PhD research; my focus is expanding towards creativity and how we use creative expression as a way of navigating and exploring grief. You can always contact me, if you wish to be involved as a participant in my research.
My Masters (and now expanding to PhD) focussed on everyday home objects and photographs that are kept after a bereavement in a family. I’m interested in what memories and stories, objects and photographs evoke, and why people choose to keep certain items around them in their homes.
I’d encourage others to share home photographs and objects in a similar vein that we have in our home now, that may relate to a loved one, or kept as a memento of a holiday for example. I’ll be sharing items from my home and archive and will include a little story about the associated meanings, memories and anecdotes I have, occasionally linking to readings that I’ve found useful, and you may too.
In the current global climate, many of us are working from and spending more time in our homes, and thinking this would be a good time for us to come together online as a community, sharing our memories, stories, objects and photographs from our homes. Connections to everyday objects and photographs that are important, valuable (not necessarily in a monetary way) as well as enriching our lives.
Those of you who have been following my blog and Masters journey, will be familiar with this mirror:
It belonged to my Grandparents, gifted to them as a Wedding present back in 1958. It has 12 sides, held by a short chain and circle, with clips attaching the mirror to the backing, something vintage now, definitely of the time, I’ve done some research into the manufacturer, most likely to be G-plan:
It was always a feature in my Grandparent’s home as long as I can remember, in the house they lived in from when I was young until I was 36. As kids we would dance and sing in front of it, put on Nan’s scarves and put makeup on in front of it.
I’ve been reading Brian Dillons ‘In the Dark Room’, and in his ‘Things’ chapter he talks about the wider associations to a kept object, going beyond what it is at face value, similar to the writings of John Berger who wrote about memories being non-linear. Objects and photographs allow us to focus on recall of memory, however not always working in a linear way, i.e different associations to an object or photograph at different times.
Sometimes the evoked memories through the object or photograph go far beyond the initial memory;
The mirror for me is symbolic as reflecting our family life, sharing the laughs and the sorrows, birthdays, the room in which it was hung, the other objects and photographs that surrounded it like a shrine of my family history. The smells that filled the room, the pie and mash dinners, fish and chips, tomato ketchup that sat opposite it on the table, the sweet smell of cake, hairspray and atrixo hand cream. Beyond the room in which the mirror was hung, was an ordinary terraced house that sat in an estate, in the early days had a conifer in the front garden, a short walk to the river. The mirror, now over 60 years old now sits in my home, reflecting my life, in my terraced home. It shares and reflects the people in my life, those who visit, the couple who visited me during my Open House, who had lived in my house some 40 years earlier. What memories the mirror could tell if it could speak.
I’ll be writing a blog soon on my Masters Research, and those wanting to join me on my journey through PhD; the focus is expanding towards creativity and how artists and in the everyday use grief as a way of creative expression. You can always contact me, if you wish to be involved as a participant in my research.
I look forward to seeing your shares and stories with me through my Facebook page.
Until next time.
What a great start to my Masters, and Nikki Price Photography will still be running in a business sense, but I’ve decided to take a small step back to concentrate on my studies. This choice of course isn’t an immediate concern for me as I’m not directing my time a million miles away from where my passion lies, and I have some smaller projects in the pipeline for 2018.
I’ve realised in writing this blog, that I had two pre-loaded draft blogs on:
- a literature list (in an attempt to encourage myself to write as I go along)
- and a two month review of where I am with my research
I won’t repost the whole blogs but here’s a little flavour for you:
The thing I’ve found with research and reading around a subject you are so passionate about, brings up all kinds of the thoughts and processes. I’ve found myself in a natural ‘rabbit hole’, wanting to keep delving into subjects and getting more and more excited about where it is leading me. I have been writing using good old fashioned paper and pen, and often let my thoughts wander having ‘revelations and ideas’ at times, so I always try to keep my observation journal on me. In many ‘how to’ guides I’ve seen advice like ensure you diarise time to just think, which I think is sound advice!
Great thinking places I’ve found are (I’ve also got Lauren Elkins Flaneuse book waiting in the wings to be read so hoping for some further inspiration):
- on a train -journeys over half an hour are best (great for when I travel to Uni)
- in a cafe – always a bonus for a long lunch
- in the shower -all best ideas are made here aren’t they?
So where am I now?
Three months further into my reading and I feel I’m getting to that research niche in that shadow, my thirst for knowledge and reading is growing, like I commented to my supervisor, ‘I loved that book so much I felt like I inhaled it!’ (speaking of Annette Kuhn’s Family Secrets). I’ve completed my first presentation and was comfortable doing it.
My research (no matter how wide I am reading at the moment) keeps pulling me to: using family photography (memory and narratives) as a means to researching Identity, Belonging, and Loss.
So in photography’s core concept of the ‘Rule of Thirds’ here are my top three (boy this has been hard!) key readings that have made a huge impact on me so far, and would encourage you to read them:
Annette Kuhn (1995) Family Secrets
Taking Autoethonography to the next level with this book, a straight talking 360 degree analysis of the authors family photographs, allowed me to think more about the ‘face value’ of the immediate photograph. This read has enabled me to think more about my childhood photographs, particularly those during my senior school years and to analyse them within the wider social context at that time, and my family unit. Kuhn’s reflection on her school uniform echoed that of my own, mother buying the size up so we ‘would grow into it’ (I’m sure many families consider this!) coming from a single parent family. I was also the first in my family to go to University, and all the expectations and feelings that surrounded this. Kuhn’s father was the photographer and yet it was her mother who was the instigator for the photos of Kuhn in various home made outfits, mirroring a matriarchal perception of mother as the nurturer, time keeper, and recorder of childhood moments. This also ignited my love of concepts of time travel, and awareness of time using photographs to allow us to metaphorically travel/connect with different points of time, Marc Triver notes that ‘a room needs a clock to denote the passing of time’ P185 in Berger’s book;
John Bergers (1967) Understanding a photograph
I read Bergers book at the same time I watched his 1972 BBC series of Ways of seeing. Both have completely transformed not only the way I am thinking about and analysing my own work, but art I see in many places. My connection to of art is greater, taking a 3 minute ‘dedicated’ time to ‘see’ work that I find of particular interest to me, looking deeper into what the artists message was, the context in which it was made, and having that critical reflection. I particularly enjoyed Berger’s diagrams on ‘Memory’ and its ‘non-linear’ way of looking at a photograph, in that recalling memories from photographs although constructed in a very chronological/linear way (in a hard copy of an album Birth through to before Death), the process of understanding/seeing a photograph happens in a very “radially” way “that is to say that an enormous number of associations leading to the same event” (P59). This allowed me to think that a photograph isn’t simply a static moment in time, but an artefact to revisit again and again, to enhance or obtain different meanings from it as Berger says “The appearances of the event photographed implicates other events, It is the energy of these simultaneous connections and cross references which enlarge the circle beyond the dimension of instantaneous information” (p91) i.e. a photograph allows for more interpretation, beyond what you can initially see.
The great thing about Berger’s work is his no-nonsense straight forward talk, and written words, that I find very accessible, de-mystifying the arena of ‘art’.
Roland Barthes (1982) Camera Lucida
Probably the key three things to come out of Barthes Camera Lucida is his analysis of the ‘Winter Garden’ (p63) photograph, the Punctum (p27) and Studium (p28). In his analysis of the Winter Garden, Barthes was searching for his mothers true identity, connecting with who she was before he was born. He suggested that ‘the photograph doesn’t necessarily say what is no longer but only for certain was has been’ (p85), in the case of his mother, she was at the Winter Garden, that is for certain, looking at the concepts of photographs moving across time, this would allow Barthes to now ‘see’ his mother as she was then. Although strange for me to say perhaps from coming from a visual perspective, I found the beautiful thing about his analysis and his connection to the photo was that there was no copy of it for the reader to see, as he notes ‘this photograph only exists for me, for you it would be nothing other than an indifferent picture’ (p73). The Punctum; that something within the photo that pricks your interest, and the Studium; allowing time to contemplate the photo, have been two simple concepts but inspirational ideas.
Along with Berger and Kuhn’s books this has changed the way I am seeing, I have revisited past work and family photographs, to really ‘see’ what is contained within. For Example; my Punctum in this Family photograph is the red coat I am wearing. This photo was in a collection kept by my late father, I didn’t recall the moment it was taken until I saw the photo, and the red coat immediately stood out to me ‘pricking’ my interest, the spending time (studium) to analyse it further.
In a little corner of Rochester in Kent there is a little unknown lane (in comparison to its well documented sister Rochester High Street), Horsewash Lane. As you know I love a bit of local history and have been fascinated by it for ages, however the history behind Horsewash Lane has only come onto my radar recently.
When I was little my father lived in Strood, and when returning home we’d always cross Rochester bridge, going under the subway which is the start of Horsewash Lane (opposite the Crown Pub), at the time I didn’t know it by that name. I was fascinated by that white tiled subway, as I descended the spiral stair case to it, or when I went with my mum and brother (who was in a pram at the time) down the ramp. I can’t really explain why I had a real connection with that subway, perhaps as it book ended some great memories from days out, then we returned home with the hustle and bustle of the road above, safe in our echoey subway.
Anyway I digress, Horsewash lane, I’ve investigated the history behind the area, through Medway Council Archive Centre and CityArk online, both of which note that horse washing took place at this point at the river from around 1828, as depicted in sketches found from the Frindsbury side of the river. The lane has been documented to have been there since 1548 (then known as St Clements Lane) when the Parish of St Clements declined following Henry the 8th’s united church policy. The City ark document noted that in 1851 an arch from the Church of St Clements was found when the new bridge was being built. This Lane linking to the area know as ‘The Common’ hosted many a market in its hey day including wheat, cattle, corn. It is refreshing to see that the traditional markets of Medway are being kept alive such as the Rochester Farmers Market and Rochester Flea.
Visiting the area today, it is very run down, fenced off, with no real evidence of the interesting area that it once was, it feels unloved and neglected (apart from the graffiti and the coach park). The old subway is now boxed in, the stairs removed, and a new pedestrian crossing now takes it’s place. With the new Rochester Riverside housing development, I wonder whether Horsewash Lanes new residents will even know that this place ever existed. So much of our local area is well documented, I don’t like to see those little gems not so well known, fall to the way side in our wonderful and rich local history.
The photographs I have taken show the area 2016, before further development takes place, and this area’s history is potentially forgotten.
The start to my Brownie 127 project (Medway in the 1950’s) has been amazing. I’ve made such a connection with the people I interviewed, don’t get me wrong it has been amazing visiting the Medway archives searching through resources and reading books about local history, but it something entirely different talking to people, and listening to their stories. Here’s a taster of some of the people I have interviewed so far for the project (Don’t want to give any spoilers!), want to be involved? see here.
Barry E: a great visit to the former Horsted Farm site in Chatham where Barry’s family worked, it is now an open space with some housing, skirting the edge of Fort Horsted. Barry remembers when they planted the trees for the Orchard.
Richard B: we visited numerous places Luton arches area of Chatham. I loved hearing Richards stories especially that the proximity to living so close to the railway had inspired him to become an engineer! Richards enthusiasm for the local area and supporting its heritage hasn’t faltered as he is the Chairman of a charity working to establish a 1939 Chatham bus as an educational resource, the Medway Heritage Bus.
I must admit I haven’t played around with film photography for a while, my last project of film photos was for my modern day fairytale exhibition for Medway Open Studios.
I was delighted to be asked to have a play with a Kodak Brownie 127, something of a staple camera from the 1950’s.
The prospect of using another film camera was exciting. I’m at the start of prepping for a blurred / imperfect / destructive digital photography project, and the imperfections and a ‘hope and a prayer kind of photo’ that film gives you, has fuelled my fire of producing more film photography.
As I had come to the Brownie 127 Project quite late, it seemed the perfect time to have my 9 exposures entitled ‘The Last Day of Summer’. So on the sunniest and warmest day of August 2015, I loaded up the Brownie 127 and spent some quality time in my garden.
I was fortunate enough to have ben lent a Brownie camera with a film by a fellow artist who is also submitting work for the Brownie 127 project. This and the advice via email from the project lead made this start very easy.
I was however a little apprehensive to start…..with my staple 35mm Canon Film camera, (make sure its loaded in a dark room, automatic wind on, be careful when handling the film, make sure its in a dark room etc etc), the ease and simplicity of the Brownie camera seemed a little too good to be true! but it was! Loading the film in the shade was a breeze, it was quite difficult to work out if it had caught on the spool, but after a few turns it was. The number of exposures from the rear of the camera, didn’t appear as easily I’d hoped from the instructions with ‘2 or 3 turns would suffice’, however the roll needed to be turned at least 6 to see the exposure numbers. The Brownie seemed pretty hardy and robust.
I had posted a photo of the camera on my Instagram and my Facebook business page, and quite a number of family members and friends were posting that they too had a Brownie camera exactly the same back in the day. This was also great way of getting any further tips on using it!
I really wasn’t too sure if any of my photos would come out, however as the day was bright and all photos were taken in the garden, so thought at least they would be well lit!
Due to the timescale to the project submission deadline, I sent the film away for developing, and within a week they had been returned, I think the price was reasonable for the developing. I will in the future have an experiement and develop my own.
When I had received the photos and the film back, it was evident that stillness when taking the photo was key (a skill to perfect on especially without the stabiliser function on digital cameras!), and to keep the subject wide in the view finder. I had perhaps been a little too close in shots of my dog (and that he was very energetic!). It was great to see however the contrasts in the photos were good (which I love high contrast photos), and some ‘happy mistakes’ were made when I didn’t turn the film on enough and got a double exposure on part of the film. This double exposure reminded me of when I went back to the very basics and made a camera obscura out of a shoe box. These ‘imperfections’ of slightly blurred, out of focus, and contrasty photos, I absolutely love. This camera is definitely one for more abstract photography (and great for quick holiday snaps).
I also couldn’t resist taking a photo of my digital camera, as homage to the film!
Nikki Price, The Last Day of Summer (2015) 127 Film
For those of you who would like to be involved in a Nikki Price Photography project then carry on reading:
I’m revisiting a significant/memorable place for those of you who were children/young people growing up in the Medway Towns (or near) in the 1950’s, to have your photo taken at that place today, and to give this a short paragraph of why it is memorable/significant.
If you are interested in volunteering for this next project then drop me a line through the contact me link here:
I’m so looking forward to being at the Rochester Flea on Saturday 30th November 2013 sharing an outside stall with fellow photographer Richard Reader. As well as some fabulous second hand goodies, musical instruments, clothing and little stocking fillers, I will have an assortment of my portrait and landscape photos available to purchase. I will also be having a an exclusive promotional offer to those who come along to the Flea for an Autumn/Winter outdoor shoot WOW I’m soooo excited!!!!! So get there early to pick up a flyer.
For those of you looking for ‘feel good’ Calendars for 2014 then look no further that my stall, following the successful sell out of the Medway Little Theatres Calendar Girls in May I have a limited number of Calendars featuring the very gorgeous cast, left to purchase (including a little photo of yours truly). All Calendars are £7.50 and all proceeds are being split between the following Charities: Marie Curie, Cancer Research, and Macmillan Nurses. Fabulous causes I’m sure you’ll agree.
Don’t forget to come and say hello, and sample all the wonderful treats at the Flea.
NB: I will be wearing a few more clothes than this! 😉
Nestled away Near Cranbrook in Kent is Sissinghurst Castle, a wonderful home born out of a passion of a couple (Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West) in the 1930’s.
I was lucky to have visited at a time where the gardens were in full bloom.
The idea of ‘getting in for a shilling/penny’ is still operational by the National Trust, you are given a plastic shilling/penny in order to gain entry to the main building.
The feel is similar to that of Castle Drogo however not as huge, but in a sense that someone had a great passion to make their home exactly how they wanted. I can relate to that, after all its is said that our home is our castle.
The Site is wonderfully peaceful and a delight to sit in the wild garden by the stream. The building and maintaining of the Castle wasn’t with out its struggle, not only between the land, but also between Vita and Harold. There is a great exhibition about their lives, loves, strains, and passion throughout their lives which I would encourage anyone to go and see. I love the passion of individuals striving for their own little haven in their creative world.
An Excerpt from Vitas diary:
When people like you and me marry, life resolves itself into a compromise, which is truly satisfactory to neither. Bit I love you, I can never ever cure myself of you, so what is to be done?
So after the wonderful success of the promotional shoot for a commission by The Right Step Dance Company for Fuse Festival and costume by Kalikas Armour, it was fabulous to see the full performance at the Fuse Festival 2013.
With haunting vocals by Tendayi Sutherland and processional drum by Jacob Bride and JIMtheSAINT the Sirens emerged from the Central Theatre Chatham, Solemnly walking through the busy shoppers of the high street who were stopping in their tracks to see the Sirens, ending their Journey at the Anchor.
The full musical composition combined with the Sirens, protective, mischievous, and tempting natures, treated the audience to a journey through the Sirens personalities and mysticism that surrounds the legend of the Siren.
Protective – mother-like figure over the other Sirens
Mischievous – cheeky and playful
Temptress – luring the sailors to shore
I found the whole performance fitting, given our Naval history within the towns of Medway. It was a wonderful collaborative project encompassing the variety of talented artists across the Medway Towns.
I have been proud and honoured to work with some fantastic artists. Heres to future projects!