2017 - 2021
My Father’s Things
My father died on the day after his 92nd birthday. After the initial weeks of grieving I began photographing his things. Driven by sorrow and a need to hold on to him, over the following nine months I photographed everything that he had left behind at the hour of his death; everything he possessed.
In my exploration of his world I came across things that I had expected to find – e.g. his clothes, birthday cards and many, many books – and other items that were a surprise e.g. notes written to me and my siblings, early paintings and, yes, his Viagra. The resulting photographic work, ‘My Father’s Things’ (working title), comprises 9000+ images, many of them surprisingly beautiful.
Although a depiction of one person’s property, the body of work has a universality and the images have a resonance on several levels including:
• Having to sort out the things belonging to one’s deceased loved ones is an experience that touches the lives of many
• The discovery of what a person retains over many decades and across several house moves
• The contemplation of the intrinsic merits of design and utility in everyday objects we handle
• The importance attached to possessions and what will become of ours after our own passing.
• The pleasure of seeing in the collection, things we used to have in our own families and had forgotten about
My father, Brian Aldiss, had had a full and colourful life; from serving in the Far East during WW 2, through two marriages to becoming a famous Grand Master of Science Fiction. Awarded an O.B.E and two honorary degrees, he had amassed an extensive library; almost every book on the shelves contained pages of particular interest bearing his mark. He owned recordings of music from all over the world and artworks, many his own, filled the walls. Looking at these still life images, there is just as much interest in the everyday objects such a nailbrush, a pair of shoes, the contents of a desk drawer, as in the more unusual - his literary awards and medals.
I am thankful that a special set of circumstances contributed to the successful completion of my project: my geographical and emotional proximity to my father; enjoying 24hour access to his house and possessions; having an understanding family; and, although working against the clock, sufficient time to photograph everything. Without these such a task would have been impossible.
This unique set of images is a study of what we collect as we go through life and what we leave behind.