Lee Grant – Photography Blog

Still Life: Nostalgia and Domesticity

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Had the pleasure of having coffee with Marion Drew today thanks to Anne O’Hehir. It was brief – I stole away for half an hour from work to meet them – but great. Interesting to talk to Marion about her still life series particularly as I’ve been obsessing over this genre in the last few weeks. I’m chuffed to say that we exhibited together in the Josephine Ulrick Award up at the Gold Coast Art Gallery. Marion showed this work:

Rainbow_lorikeet_on_Queensland_needleworkRainbow Lorikeet on Queensland Needlework (courtesy Marion Drew)

She told us that the needlework had been made by her mother many years ago which I thought was a really lovely connection. Which then made me think more about some of my own intentions with the still-life genre, namely to use the trinkets and objects I’d inherited from my grandmother as a way to stay connected to her. My Gran, Judaline, was quite a formidable presence in our lives – we spent most of our summers in the one-horse town where she lived in Northern NSW. It was without fail, hot, dusty and often (to a precocious suburban kid) boring, but we always managed to occupy ourselves; exploring the farm (when she lived out of town) and imagining ourselves as wild cowgirls (I was Calamity Jane!) taming the wild beasts of the bush… and when she moved into town, spending all hours of the day (and sometimes night) at the local pool across the road. When trips to the local milkbar wore us down we always had her fabulously retro TV to watch all those fantastically wrong American 80s shows. Ah, it was the good life. My fondest memory though was always the kitchen and the dining table setting. Vintage tablecloths with a variety of crockery (the blue Willow china only coming out for Sunday lunch) and a mish-mash of bone-handled cutlery as well as the ubiquitous salt and pepper shakers cast in a variety of animal shapes! The picture of that table is still clear in my mind and I know for my own still-life work, that I want to recreate the memory of that, to somehow hold on to that distinctly Australian vernacular aesthetic. Distracted by other things in life, I wasn’t really photographing at the time my Gran died, a regret I still feel deeply. She was always very houseproud and her home was very much a reflection of her consummate collection of things. I suppose I would have liked to have some kind of tangible memory of that domestic space in which I spent a large part of my childhood, photographs then as momento mori. Instead I find myself recreating that nostalgia though images like this one, using inherited and thus precious objects:

_MG_9856…still-life from a work-in-progress

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Written by Lee Grant

June 30, 2009 at 10:32 pm

One Response

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  1. They call her Calamity!

    photoetrist

    July 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm


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