I was sent this photo the other day from my Dad's friend - he took this of me as a baby and I'd never seen it before. I'm looking pretty cool huh!? Totally rocking 1983. It got me to thinking about how much I cherish memory, and how much image plays a part in that. I have never seen this photo before and it was lovely to have a fresh image of my childhood. Last year I also received this photograph from my grandparents - an image I'd never seen before of me and my brother busy in their kitchen, making. Look how much I am concentrating, what was I making?
I read a blogpost by fellow photographer Laura Babb asking her readers about their first memory of creating something. I've been making and creating since I could pretty much walk. I remember A LOT of making that went on at my Grandma's house, she totally let us get on with whatever I wanted (yes, that's why I can darn socks!) I get so much satisfaction when I'm drawing, taking photos or making something. But I don't remember this specific day the photo was taken. I remember learning to do lots of things with my Gran: to knit, cross stitch, making shepherds pie for the first time, and carrot cake (it felt like I was grating carrots forever and then I didn't even like the cake!). One time I made paper butterflies with which I decorated their garden. There aren't any photos of these things but I feel like they are part of me and who I am, as an artist and as a person.
I read the other day that every time you remember something you recreate the memories afresh, therefore changing it slightly. Therefore the things you remember the most are possibly furthest from the truth. I'm not sure how I feel about this! It could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending which memories I'm thinking about ...I've got a really good memory, I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse. But I do love it. I know a few of my friends don't have strong memories, I wonder why some of us do remember and some of us don't.
These photos are an actual record of what happened. I love looking through our family albums, and throughout my life have spent hours pouring over them, making the photos memories, and part of my history. But I didn't grow up looking at these images in a family album, these are memories I didn't know existed. What were we making that day? When was it? How did I feel? What happened?
It makes me question what is a real memory? Is a visual record enough or do you need an emotion accompany it? Part of the reason I love drawing and taking photos is observing the world around me and recording those memories for myself and for other people. I collect a ridiculous amount of things for sentimental reasons, to make memories - tickets, flyers, doodles, photos, emails, letters. I remember with all my senses - in images, in songs and in touch.
Smells are really powerful too - just a whiff of baking bread sends me right back to my other Grandad's bakehouse, watching him kneed the dough and carrying it over to the shop in huge wicker baskets, an incredibly safe and happy memory. LOVE. I know that happened and was real. You don't need a photograph or object to save a memory, but somehow they make them concrete.
Another blog that I absolutely love is Dear Photograph - where readers send in photos of photos in exactly the same place as they were taken in the past, along with a message to the photograph...it's so interesting and emotive. I find this site hard to read sometimes as it can make me sob real tears! Check it out.