The Journey Inward
The continued isolation because of Covid-19 has fostered for me a journey inward. Along with an ongoing class ‘Metaphor in Photography’ that I offer through the Wickford Art Association, I have cycled back in subject matter to the world of Wabi-Sabi and the visual preserving of the soon to be gone. Key triggers are rusted metal, textured wood, leaning outbuildings and interiors full of other worldly presence.
I see the beauty in a broken shed. Even with the timeless pull of gravity causing sagging roof lines and leaning, I see the dignity of structure. The beauty exists in line, texture shape and unique characteristics that create a personality. These structures are unique, functional and ordinary, yet each one has a story. Built of wood, block or stone, there is an ingenuity of materials and repurposing. They have stored tractors, hay, tools, cars, then perhaps in a second cycle, flowerpots, empty boxes, golf clubs and broken wicker chairs. These things that are stored inside and forgotten, rarely to be thought about again. Often, I am fortunate enough to gain access to the interior spaces. These can be littered with relics long past functional use, intimately lit with soft ambient light. Rusted tools hang from nails on the wall, old newspaper fills the cracks in the walls, vines curl along dirt encrusted windows. In some cases the spaces are empty, and shafts of daylight illuminate only the worn wooden floorboards.
Metaphor is in all work even if you are not aware. In looking deeper, my feeling of vulnerability rises to the surface. Such is the lifecycle of the outbuildings and spaces I explore today. In the weathered, tattered shingles there are worlds of stories and emotion. Who built it? What was its intended use? How old is it? These structures are created for practical purposes, used and then when obsolete, abandoned with all of their possessions intact.
Our stories, like the empty boxes in the shed will disappear when we do. In photographing these subjects, I imbue them with the dignity of memory and a sense of presence.
The imposed quarantine during the height of the Covid-19 epidemic has been a centering opportunity for me. Within my subject matter - the vulnerability of what humans create for useful purposes - I see a metaphor of an emerging rebirth. With shoots of spring vine and lichen the earth reclaims these abandoned constructs, these things people have built, whether sheds or huge textile mill complexes. The resulting decay feeds them back into the earth, leaving a footprint for those curious enough to explore.
More images of the Journey Inward can be found here