Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Deborah Parkin's Dark Sentimentality
I'm reading Photography and Death by Audrey Linkman at the moment - a fun read on Victorian Death Pictures. I like how in old memento mori pictures, dead children were so often surrounded by flowers - symbols of life, purity and godliness. If they were photographed on their deathbed, the flowers were a symbol of the love of the surviving relatives and would also help mask the smell of death.
A couple of weeks ago I did a book swap with Deborah Parkin and received a beautiful Ethiopian-bound
( wood-covered) handmade books, Stillness in Time. It's absolutely beautiful and fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. Flip it open and there are small prints of her collodion prints of her children paired with quotes from books that range from the poetic to the tragic. Deborah studied holocaust studies, so there are suitably dark quotes in there. And then there are the flowers; they surround her children, who pose with eyes closed. They look like memento mori. And when they don't look like memento mori, they look like pictures from a second world war archive, like refugee children.
So the pictures are beautiful and sentimental with a nod to both nostalgia and the archive. And the text is sombre and bleak. It is a difficult combination to pull off, but Deborah does it admirably. It's Dark Sentimentality.