If grief is an Old Fashioned cocktail, bear with me, then guilt is the sweetness that suffuses, binds, and blends the many mixed emotions within it, all together.
Guilt, and its strange, bizarre sweetness, is what always draws you back to sip once more the bitterness of grief.
On my return to Jamaica, after father's death, in a present where both of my parents are passed, my desire to find my place, my belonging and my home here was always destined to end in disappointment, as most dreams do, upon awakening. As I’m not sure what this place means to me now without the anchor of my Jamaican parents.
*Cut to flags at half mast at The Sovereign Centre – fade slowly to black*
The death of the Queen, and the 12 days of official mourning enforced here, have a hollowness to it, especially on an island that was once the last stop at the end of the Triangle for so many. An island where the majority are the descendants of slaves.
Slaves whose bondage and blood would grow and swell the coffers of royalty. Whose descendants' deaths now cause flags to hang low on flag poles at shopping centres.
Goodbye, Mrs Queen, as my dad would call her. My mother had a scrapbook of pictures of you as a princess. And the dream of seeing the Trooping of the Colour at the palace took her across the sea to England. But Mrs Queen, you were only ever an empty vessel which your subjects painted, projected, or cast their own thoughts on.
You were only ever a dream of our own making. That one awakens from to find was never real.
It's odd that some can cry for strangers they never knew, crying at the gates of their palaces. Whilst others struggle to find tears for those they loved.
Perhaps grief, found in the guilt, of all the things you felt you never did, or never said, has to be returned to, again and again if only for the sweetness that suffuses, binds and blends the many mixed emotions of grief within it, all together, to fade from our lips.
Here in this land of wood and water, where my parents were born but whose bodies lay at rest across the sea, the sip of bitterness is the only thing that so many have as “yesterday is still leaking through the roof".
EYES ON MAIN STREET - 8TH EDITION
Work in progress: Such is a Pathway
In recent news, the last few weeks have seen the completion of a two-week journey which saw me return home to Canada, last week, after travelling from Birmingham to Paris, Vimy Ridge to Dieppe, then to Juno, Gold, and Omaha Beach in Normandy, before finally heading up to Dalton-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, to the place where Ross would finally find the last place on earth his father Malcolm had walked before his last mission.
The journey finally culminated in former RAF Croft, where Malcolm took off from for his last mission, where I watched as Ross hugged his wife and daughter and cried for the past and the future, which never was.
I'm still processing both the trip, but the images made along the way.
Latest exhibition: Reframed: The woman in the window - Dulwich Picture Gallery
I feel honoured to have had my work selected for this exhibition. One which raises so many important questions but also places my work in the company of so many great artists. The exhibition opens on May 4th.
In Heart and Life and Longing (work in progress)
This is an ongoing photographic work exploring notions of liminality and Blackness within Montreal.
This work also has a public facing, socially engaged remit. Where over the last year, I have run free photographic workshops with organisations such as The Phi Foundation of Contemporary Arts and DESTA to give people skills to tell the stories of their own lived experience. as Blackness is not a monolithic concept.
More info on some of these workshops below.
As my work continues, I hope to collect these stories as an archive of Black experience.
More here: https://www.inheartandlifeandlonging.com/ (External website)
Such is the Pathway (work in progress)
2 years before Malcolm MacLeod, Mackie to his friends, was born in Hawkesbury, Ontario, in 1915, Friedrich Bergius would develop the synthetic oil process and thus seal Mackie's fate.
29 years after his birth, on January 14th, 1945, Mackie would die at the controls of his Lancaster bomber. Dying in the night sky over Merseburg on his 18th mission to destroy the Leuna Synthetic oil refinery developed by Bergius.
Mackie would be one more name added to the list of over 57,000 Bomber Command deaths.
Whilst, Albert Speer would describe this mission, and the destruction of the refinery, as the nail in the coffin for Nazi Germany, it would also be the end of a future for a wife and son back in Canada waiting for a letter home that would never come.
This work explores how the trauma of that night still lingers on in a family so many years after the war has ended. And within the son, Ross, perhaps who is still in search of a father he would never know.
77 years later, in the summer of 2022, the son travels from Canada to the last place on earth his father set foot on; R.A. F Croft in Yorkshire. Searching for a trace of the man he still calls dad.
This ongoing work explores this journey.
ACROSS THE SEA IS A SHORE (WORK IN PROGRESS)
Across The Sea Is A Shore is a collection of four individual, yet connected inter-generational photographic works which, since 2008, have attempted to explore post-war migration from the Caribbean to Britain.
Exploring the legacies of this journey from post-Windrush to Brexit.
The four works are:
From a Small Island - Introduction of the major themes across the series.
The Last Days of Summer - This ongoing work is an exploration of a group of young 3rd generation Black men in Handsworth, Birmingham. From the stock market crash of 2008, and austerity, and the hostile environment, until the end of their youths, in a time of Brexit and the redrawing of Britain’s immigration policies.
From Whence We Came - I have been in the past to ‘go back home from where I came from’. In this light, this ongoing work is an exploration of the psychological effects of those caught between two homes and who search for a sense of belonging and connection to both.
Inna Di Morrows - An ongoing work that explores the journey at the end of the migrant story. Examining what happens when migrants choose to stay and never go back ‘home’ again, shaped by domesticity, ageing, introspection, love and, sadly, death.
To find out more or to receive an extended version of this newsletter, please get in touch.
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De cœur, de vie, de nostalgie
In Heart and Life and Longing, is a public engagement project created by artist Andrew Jackson and DESTA Black Youth Network. This project stems from a series of workshops offered by Jackson, addressing how photography enables us to document our experience of home.
The public took part in two workshops, while members of DESTA took part in 10 intensive workshops and accompanying tutorials.
The project culminated in an exhibition of the participants' works below at Phi Foundation of Contemporary arts.
Please join me for Part One of The Mile, a 4-part serial novella exploring that new normal to come. Commissioned by @CIVIC_SQUARE