The first exhibition at the Back lane West residency – Tying the Threads was an opportunity to test the project Objects of Loss.
Five people brought objects. The chaise and the chair from home gave the space a comfortable intimacy and focusing on the held object brought poignancy to the conversations and a powerful point of focus that took us immediately to the specifics of the loss. A deep invocation of these lost people followed. Conant (1996 :182) found in her interviews with widows that “imagery acted as a substitute for the private relationship that was lost”. I was attentive to how they held the object, let my focus rest on their hands so could then describe that action in the image the camera captured. The act of photographing also signalled a conclusion, possibly a step back into the outer world. The objects are both “signs and material markers of grief” (Tanner 2006:184).
One participant had no objects connected with the absent, dead person so instead we talked about the absence, gave it a size and shape that had meaning to the participant and their connection, there was a strong emotional response to being able to give a form to this absence of object.