Family can be the bond that draws together people who might not otherwise spend much time in each other’s company.
In these un-staged photographs, Nature becomes the backdrop for a subtle unfolding of family dynamics. Individuals drift in and out of contact with those around them, becoming absorbed in their own thoughts and space, and in the process momentarily forgetting the company of those they are with. They remain within touching distance, and a sound or a gesture would bring them back into the group, but the separation feels real and distinct. No matter the fondness, this momentary separation may suggest the potentially limited common ground that many family members share. The desire to be together and spend time in each other’s company is mitigated by differences in generations, lifestyles, values, and interests. There is always a gap, and a moment when participation in group activities runs out of steam, and the individual turns inwards.
This body of work was pivotal in my development as a photographer. The first image in the series, taken on a walk in the forest, revealed a way to visualise how I felt about family relationships through portraying the physical distance between people.
‘Interior, 1899,’ Vilhelm Hammershøi
The paintings by Vilhelm Hammershøi, of his wife Ida, have been instrumental in helping me to see this. In many of his works, Ida is turned away, just out of reach and absorbed in her own thoughts. If we were to make a noise, or begin conversation, the chances are she would turn and engage with us, but for the moment she is elsewhere. It is this fusion of intimacy and distance that relationships routinely find themselves in that was to prove so informative for my own practice. In many of his paintings, and in my photographs, the viewer is on a threshold, they can choose either to move into the scene and join the company of those portrayed, or they can drift away and remain in the privacy of their own thoughts.
Inspired by the past, this is the first part of my ‘Northern Trilogy.’
Print size; 91×91 cm, Edition of 5 with 2 AP.