Shadows

Trigger Warning - contains violence, sexual abuse.

Crime Scene or Accident?

When the short term memory of my mother disappeared I was left trying to piece together how my father died on 6th December 2019. Sitting in the hospital I wondered what were the cuts on his forehead and why could I find nothing in the flat he had fallen against? Were the marks on his neck bruises?  He was a controlling and violent man and I positioned my mother as a victim. Had I seen the full story or understood anything? How many perpetrators were there in my family? The police examined his body and advised that the death was, "...not in the public interest." For two years I have photographed her flat and the objects she held close. 

The Shadows 

My family was an unsafe and dark place to grow up in, a unit of secrets and severe abuse.  I have known pain and darkness, I carry the shadows inside me. Even when we grow and transform, the shadows stay hidden in our bodies. Once we know fear we cannot unknow it. How do I define a safe space and embrace transitions in myself? I admire those who heal.

(The first two images and Object With Stains were taken by my daughter for her degree project on intergenerational trauma).

Wendy's Chair, Spray on Wall

Object with Red Stains

Half full Cocktail Cabinet Summer 2020

Empty Cocktail Cabinet Autumn 2020

Nemesis

Self Medicating

My mother hid bottles of spirits in every cupboard. After my dad died the cocktail cabinet emptied in clear view. Each week I visited and more bottles had emptied and I recycled. I thought she was grieving. 

We had myths and careful versions of the truths within our extended family. They would suffocate, strangle, beat unconscious the child who had an opinion and then say I had imagined it. 

Ornaments

Bracelet

Fidget Spinner

Family Heirloom

Trace and Trauma

"The blood was all over the floor." 

"But I scrubbed and bleached it."

"I can still see it."


What would happen if I ended this state and sought my truth and found evidence to prove that I did not imagine my childhood? if I photographed objects to make the clues real? A photograph is my way of interpreting my world. I photographed my father when he died, a habit to prove that something had taken place. The objects in the flat began to tell a story, it was there all of these years but I was trained not to see it. I did not see a lot of the blood until my daughter showed it to me. Someone had wiped it away, but they left traces. 

Skirting Board

After Bleach 

Shadow

I'm the girl on the left in the yellow jumper.  My mother's whole body is curved away from me. She cannot hold my hand and she discouraged all forms of touch or conversation with me. I am looking away. I escaped into books and ponies. I asked her about her marriage and she said she had a good life and would not change anything. By day my father was a respectable businessman. But he came home in a rage. He beat and raped, hidden in plain sight. 

I would be coerced back into silence, and endure the punishments and injuries each time I spoke. The teachers were persuaded I was a highly strung child and too imaginative.  My family were part of a pedophile group. Only my sister and I spoke the truth. The doctor covered it all up. It was his job to hide the broken bones and perform illegal operations. He felt guilty. A catholic GP who sought me out when I was an adult. He kept our family close to protect himself. 

Using Format