It’s been a while since I’ve really followed any personal projects, so for a bit of inspiration I thought I’d visit one of my most important ones. Eden is a small collection of medium format film photographs (shot on Kodak Portra 400 and a Mamiya RB67) focusing on both the decay and the beauty of my mother’s garden, as well as having an underlying theme of loss. This project was started when her illness was coming to a point where she was finding it difficult to spend time in the one place she loved – her garden.
There was a sense of loneliness and neglect in the garden due to her declining health, but whatever time she could spare she would spend time maintaining what she could. I was (and still am) driven creatively by both a distance and a closeness to a subject simultaneously, and I approached this project to be the definition of my approach to photography.
As much as this was a visual study, it was also an emotional one. I used film to capture these photographs because I wanted to put time and care into them, the same way you put time and care into a garden; the same way you should put time and care into your life. Slowing everything down at that time in my life was really important to me. In fact, what I love so much about photography is that time can’t exist there; there’s no beginning but there’s also no end.
It was important that I used colour film for these photographs. Black and white images would’ve removed all the beautiful and vibrant colour from the garden, thus not making it the garden I was trying to capture at all. As much as there are no people in the photographs, they are very much faceless portraits of a woman who put her personality into the nature around her.
Looking back at the prints of this project has drawn up some mixed emotions. Obviously I’m sad at the loss of someone so dear to me, but also I’m encouraged by the beauty that continues to exist even in her absence. The garden is still there, continuing on, and therefore I wouldn’t like to say this project has ended. I still feel I have a story to tell about loss, love and nature, and adding to this collection over the coming years would allow me to slow down and appreciate all the little things that brought so much happiness to my mum.