Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grandmother's gaze




My grandmother as a child, in an unknown backyard with unknown woman.




Self portrait by my grandmother, Shirley Nicholas.

I am lucky to possess quite a few things that have been passed down from my grandmother (Mum's mum) to me. Some are books that I treasure but most are photographs and film. These two pictures have held a real fascination for me as they both seem to articulate the mystery of self. I look at them now and see my grandmother as a young girl and woman and wonder who she is and was. The photos also have the powerful quality of trapped time and seem to offer some clues to her real identity. And yet at the same time they are held in an endless bubble of that moment, never to be repeated.

My love of photography was inspired very much by Shirley (who I called Nangy all her life as when I was introduced at a young age to say "Hello to Granny" I said "Hello Nangy" and it stuck). She was the chronicler of the family and also had a talent with the lens which has meant that many of her pictures are interesting in themselves.

Sometimes I take a photo today and wonder if my daughter's daughter would still have access to the pictures or interest.

Anyway I leave you with these pictures and hope to post more about the mysteries of image making and pay homage to more photographs of my grandmother.

6 comments:

tpe said...

Hello, Austin.

I love looking at old photographs (and belongings), too. In fact, like you, I have a fair collection (of pictures) from my own granny (paternal side of the family). I can spend hours in a trance as I go through these things and can sometimes stare so intently that my eyes hurt, trying to make sense of a version of the (otherwise utterly familiar) person I never knew. I don’t really know why I do this. Do you stare until your eyes hurt?

Your granny has a very steady gaze, with a whispery hint of the sardonic, and once again I’m left wondering if people were simply more elegant in the olden days and, if so, how come? It never ceases to amaze me that people these days seem so slovenly in comparison. (I’m probably being too cruel, actually, but maybe you’ll know what I mean.)

I've just been doing some serious stalking, sorry. I got distracted by the Twitter thing in the sidebar (whilst looking at the pictures of your granny) and was led from there aboard a pelican, sailing over salt water and landing in a shop with aliens in the cups (and free coffee, at first) before being transported back here to your door and then back out to sea and then oh, such a journey. It appears, from my incredibly brave voyage of discovery, that you’re one of those dismayingly impressive people that everyone seems to love. Stop it.

Kind regards etc…....

TPE

Eddy said...

So beautiful

austin said...

Hello tpe,

as always lovely to have a visit and stalk from you. The beauty of blog stalking is that you are never sure where you might end up. Following pathways from your blog and others I have leap frogged countries, topics, poetry, photography and Art and more...

I am yet to persuade corporates and some government types to love me. Maybe if that happens I should get worried. We are dismayingly short on funds and my last presentation to government just seemed to make them tell us to get money from corporates and then the corporates tell us to get money first from gov and on it goes.

I also don't think my ex loves me but that is another story.

I know what you mean about looking and looking at old photos. It always seems there is something I am just missing, something I could find out if only I search the image enough. And it always withholds that bit of information that might unlock a key element of the person I am searching for.
I certainly think people were more elegant in many older photos, perhaps because photography was more of a special thing and still inspired a sort of magical communing with self that does not happen in our instant age?

Anyway ..thanks again for the visit and Wishing you all the Best,

Austin

austin said...

Thanks Eddie

borgywx said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

tpe said...

I never saw this response from you, Austin, sorry. It's probably too late to go back to it and sensibly pick up from where we left off - and I'm about to head through your blog to the future, in any event - but thank you for taking the time.

(I will just say though that digital photography, whilst a blessing in so many ways, appears to have made us all snap-happy in a careless kind of way. Whereas once I may have taken two or three pictures of a bird, say, I now find myself happily taking fifty. Deleting these things becomes a burden but if I don't...my computer runs slowly. Also, unless we start printing these things out, how do we properly own them? They often feel less tangible and present than the pictures of old that we would routinely hold in our hands.)

(I'll just also say this, in fact - although, as I remain in brackets, it doesn't really count as a comment, okay?: it may make the heart sink to have to deal with corporate types, but these people are a dismaying necessity. If only it didn't have to be so. I hope you've found a way round the financial worries in the meantime....)

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

Kind regards etc....

TPE