I was born in Torquay in Devon in 1984. I don't have that many memories now from my time there as I moved away on my 7th birthday. However, the memories I do have are very special to me.
I remember spending time with Danielle and Anne-Marie who lived opposite The Vicarage where I grew up with my grandparents. There was a huge apple orchard with a line of elderberry bushes at the end of it. I used to help my grandma collect the flowers up to make wine. We used to walk down the hill in our wellie boots to collect frog spawn from the big natural ponds on the common at the bottom. These were happy memories. I remember the first day dad came to pick me up for my weekend with him in his shiny new red Post Van with a sliding door on the side. I begged him to leave the door open as we slowly drove down the road because I thought it was cool. He never did.
I never really knew until I grew up that growing up in a vicarage is a different way of life to most people. There are always people coming in and out. I knew most of the regular congregation at St Martins the church next door that my Grandfather was the vicar of.
Beatie was my favourite person who went to the church. She would look after me on the nights that Sue (My Grandma) was on nights at the hospital. We shared the same birthday which was nice too. Her daughter Barbara was in the choir along with many other familiar faces although their names have been forgotten along with many other memories from Barton.
O'Hagen when writing about John Spinks' book The New Village talks about the feeling you have when you've grown up in a village and then leave.
Anyone who grew up in and left a village will sense that apprehensive approach and fractured sense of belonging, the one informing the other.
Maybe Barton isn't quite a village and maybe I dont have such a fractured sense of belonging but looking at his work reminded me of this place I once called home. Its a place that if I had known I would now be some sort of photographer, I would surely have photographed the walks on the common, the apple pie competition in the church hall on harvest festival day. The grog spawn in the ponds on the common and time spent playing in the street with my childhood friends. I would have photographed Beatie as a way to hold onto these memories that as I get older seem to fade further and further into the subconscious.
I guess you could say that this urge to freeze these memories in time is going back to the ideas around my work on [My Grandmothers] Cabinet of Curiosities where the urge to photograph takes over other natural actions. I have realised that I must return to Barton to make some photographs of at least how it is now which is very different to how it was I'm sure when I lived there. It will be a chance to reconnect with the people who are still there that remember me, to record the place as I remember it. The act of making pictures almost suspends the place in time.
In Frames of Mind: Photography, Memory and Identity Patricia Marcella Anwandter asks the following questions which for me this work I plan to make will begin to answer or at least will pose further questions..
What do we choose to remember and how do we reinforce it? Who are we in relationship to who we were?
In terms of exactly what I will be making is a series of landscapes, Portraits and observations of Barton to sum up the childhood memories I have of the place. With regards to how this fits with my project objectives, the series of portraits will continue to help me develop my portraiture whilst the observations and landscapes will help to develop my narrative creation which for me is what will hold the project together.
Anwandter, Patricia Marcella, "Frames of Mind: Photography, Memory and Identity" 26 April 2006. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania, http://repository.upenn.edu/curej/39.
O'Hagan, S. (2018). The New Village by John Spinks – review. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/25/the-new-village-john-spinks-photography-book-of-the-month-review [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].