Trigger Warning - references to childhood abuse
12 Years Old
- Fracture of shoulder
- Fracture of Jaw
- Fracture of skull
- Pelvic injuries
- Her bones buried in the rose garden, crime reference 06PP/23602/22
We went on holiday for over twenty years to a 1920s summer house. I rode ponies, played tennis, went bird watching and walking. In the grounds I built both show jumping and cross country courses and practised on them every day on foot. This is a house I dream about, and in my recurring dream it has a hidden room accessed via a high bridge and I long to find it again. The real house had bedrooms on two sides. On one side large bedrooms for guests and off the kitchen smaller ones for the servants. My sister and I slept in the smaller rooms. We were surrounded by the forest. I used to climb out of the window.
We were safe here because we holidayed with family friends, though my mother would threaten to send me away to boarding school to be rid of me. Was I ever happy knowing that the house only offered a brief interlude from the broken bones and abuse? I cannot be sure. I carry the shadows. The irony of the word photography - to paint with light. I seek it all day but find reprieve in the darkness of the night.
In 2022 I returned to look again at this space. I was haunted by Hansel and Gretel, they were abandoned by their parents and left a trail of breadcrumbs to find a way home. The need to find a way to our parents, even if they are cruel, is a survival instinct. We attach, for without this we would die.
In the woods they come across an old lady who has a house made of sweets but she is a wolf in sheep's clothing. In my version she had two husbands, I added the wolf too. Gretel wears a red cape and it lies on the floor of my wardrobe, discarded now. The grandmother wants to fatten her up. Hansel no longer exists in this story, there was only ever a girl. The house is not made of sweets but in the kitchen there is jam and coconut tart as a reward. There is no happy ending, the parents will neither see nor hear the evil.
In the real forest I found the woodshed, the ribbon tied to a tree and the signposts with yellow paint. I followed the paint marks and got lost. My dog took me back to the path.
My direction as an adult is to find a healing space, but I believe it is good to purge the demons first. Trauma is hidden in the body and the body keeps the score. My challenge is to let go, so I photograph others and ask how they release pain. It turns out to be a complex journey. I think we are all so brave for when we empty the trauma out, we make a void, and that is something we have to fill with peace and acceptance. The alchemist dreams of transforming lead into gold, they are my tribe.
Working title: Feathers of Hope