It was one of these mysterious fairy calls from out the void that suddenly reached Mole in the darkness, making him tingle through and through with its very familiar appeal, even while yet he could not clearly remember what it was…Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way (1).
Home: a place of comfort and love, a container of memories, a site for longings and a place to belong. Much like Mole’s search for his Dolce Domum in The Wind in the Willows, for many years my practice has explored this elusive state of longing for home. The setting or stage for these photographs has moved from my childhood home, to strangers’ empty homes to doll’s houses. The doll’s house has captured my imagination from an early age since watching the film The Incredible Shrinking Man as a child, where the film’s diminutive hero is relegated to the doll’s house only to be attacked by a ferocious pet cat. A doll’s house is a dream home in miniature, a place for childhood imaginings and adult escapism. I have used the construct of the miniature home to make photographs that depict a world that floats between reality and fantasy, between believable spaces and sites of make believe.
The empty and neglected bedrooms in Belonging (2006), that seem to groan with implicit memories, loosely represent the unease and weariness encountered throughout my own uncertain quest for home. In fact the repetitive representation of rooms has haunted my photographic practice for many years. Rooms which once served as the playgrounds of childhood fantasy, sometimes become places of paradox; where the perfection of the fairy-tale is found by adult experience to be wanting. Betrayed by the conviction of innocence, we begin the grown-up search for that elusive place and position in which we can truly feel at-home; where we belong.
1. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, 1908