I have become increasingly aware of the effect of music on my photographic practice and ideas recently. Remember Home by Sebastian Cole appeared on my Spotify a few weeks ago and I fell in love immediately, overwhelmed by feelings of emptiness and longing to feel at ‘home’, both spatially and mentally. The song is pertinent to my developing project and I allowed it to infiltrate my consciousness; memorising the lyrics and listening to it on repeat for something like five days. Although a ballad of romantic love, the song casted my thoughts to my mother and sister back in Surrey, and my father, all of whom I left in September to embark on my degree, but also have felt increasingly distant from thanks to my restless, adventure-driven life. Particularly since I moved from home, I have felt an ever-growing sense of guilt for dismissing my family and for refusing the feel any connection or longing for my old life, created in a desperate attempt to forget parts of my adolescence which still insist on creeping back in now and then. Cole’s song reminds me to be grateful and, appropriately, to remember home.
‘Oh, found a star to lead me back to you
Shines like you do
It shines like you do
(Send my love)
Send my love so you won’t feel alone
As soon as I can, oh
(Oh you know that) I’m coming home’
Following this experience of incredibly uncomfortable emotions combined with a significant amount of introspection, I decided that I would take photographs of my family on my upcoming visits back to Surrey for birthday celebrations. Coindentally, at the same time as my epiphany I discovered Matt Eich’s We Are Not Your Family, a stunningly heart-breaking portrayal of the ‘American Condition’. He states,
‘Through a series of photographs of my family, I attempt to give form to the tumult of love, fear, forgiveness and acceptance that goes into making a life together.’
For me, a single image cannot adequately sum up the undulations of a family’s dynamics. This work was made while observing the dissolution of my parents’ 33-year marriage, and their attempts to repair it. This has caused me to consider my own role as father, husband, provider and son. I’ve been forced to confront my fear of inadequacy and the unsustainability of my current occupation as an independent photographer.’
Eich’s work is an expression of his life and those who influence it, and I am infatuated with his work. His choice to use black and white photography helps the viewer to concentrate on the relationship dynamics between those photographed without distraction, whilst creating a tone of melancholy and tumult, but also unconditional love. This is what I hope to achieve, in essence, through my work. I take great inspiration from Matt Eich’s style and resolve.
Below are a select few of the photographs I took on my sister’s 16th birthday, a journey from my mother’s perturbation watching my sister turn 16 to my old, now empty room, to our beloved cat, Alfie. I wanted to attempt to imitate the atmosphere which Eich creates in his series, also using black-and white to keep from distraction and to communicate a desired atmosphere and tone.
Chanelle Manton, Elise and My Mother (2016)
Chanelle Manton, Embrace (2016)
Chanelle Manton, Elise (2016)
Chanelle Manton, Old Bed (2016)
Chanelle Manton, My Mother, Crying (2016)
Chanelle Manton, Mother Kissing Alfie (2016)
These photos, combined with others depicting my life now, will aim to portray my experiences of family, friendship, and feelings of belonging (or lack of) at times.