A Story Behind A Photograph by Holly Houlton
Thirteenth in the series of commissions for Develop at Home - a digital programme of articles, interviews and resources to help us stay connected, inspired and informed at this time - Holly Houlton sharing a story behind her photograph The Light At Home.
The global pandemic has committed us to strange times, being cooped up and tied down to one location. My response to this has been making an ongoing project documenting my time spent in where I am restricted to my family home and surrounding areas. Using a snapshot aesthetic to capture passing moments before they disappear forever, in an attempt to keep a track record of this extraordinary time, has resulted in forming the body of work The Light At Home.
The image displayed above is just one from this continually growing series. I took this particular photograph in my bedroom, back in mid-May this year, less than two months into the first national lockdown.
One evening, whilst I was finishing up work for the day, I noticed this incredibly strong light from the setting sun projected onto my bedroom curtains in one rectangular segment. I was utterly captivated how such a seemingly mundane object, transformed into something so peaceful just from the late evening sunlight streaming onto it. I knew I wanted to make a photographic memory of this moment and wanted to be directly involved, therefore cast my shadow to engage with the light and make my mark.
From then on, I have found this process of capturing light a therapeutic approach for dealing with having to spend a lot of time inside and hope this visually represents my appreciation of simple things, when there is not much else.
Alongside this focus of observing light and the passing of time in my family home, I have been going on long walks in the countryside and nearby places, in an attempt to escape to nature. For me, the meditative pace of walking and basking in the wonders of the environment such as; birdsong, the breeze rustling through the trees and taking the time simply to be in the landscape, provides me with a great sense of freedom and peace. By exploring place, I am able to explore my mind and emotive contemplation begins to occur which helps my wellbeing during these challenging times.These methodologies have led to the series of images acting as a photographic diary; aiming to represent the observations I have made, contemplating on non-events I would not usually dwell on; whether this is the way an object has haphazardly fallen to the floor or how the light dances upon it.
Alongside the digital images, I have made a cyanotype print using three photos from the project, each symbolising a key time of day and the light, laid out in a triptych format. I chose to also use this alternative process to incorporate the light in a tangible form, allowing it to literally form the artwork itself and make a physical print I can keep forever.
I believe this body of work will operate as almost a love letter to myself, regarding my time spent in the family home which no doubt I will miss when I have to leave. Perhaps it will seem like an intimate memoir, providing insight into my meditative experience of Covid-19, which brings me to wonder – what is yours?
- Holly Houlton