Rather fortuitously this Sunday, 27th March is the official 2011 UK Census day, but lets be honest I’m sure some of you will have already filled out the form. I’ve only glanced at it so far, but it certainly looks long and detailed enough to take a good few hours, no doubt with a few head scratching moments. Despite the hassle I do feel a strange connection with the whole process, all those old census records that have played such an important part in my genealogy research and in turn my art. Part of me can’t help thinking how much more juicy those old documents would have been if our ancestors had been asked half the questions we are. Throughout this blog I shall be continually trying to encourage and cajole as many of you as possible to start your own family quest. It just so happens that Ancestry are giving free access to their UK Census returns on the 27th, I dare you to find a more perfect opportunity......hint...hint.
It isn’t only old documents that can be a great source of inspiration, photographs can and have sparked my creative exploration. After the amazing discoveries I told you about in my previous post I started experimenting with the photograph of Ellen Rose Violet Heyes and the first kernels of the visual side of ‘Lost Voices’ sprung to life. But it wasn’t until a while later that certain events propelled my project forward and it became a fully formed entity.
Often it’s those chance encounters or events that can provide you with the most clarity and make things really start to click. One such occasion was a long desired family outing to Ardingly antique fair, years in the planning and getting round to, the day became quite an occasion, even seeing Bargain Hunt (the original daytime antique experience) being filmed. My fabulous sister and I trekked off with our spending pennies to see what wonders we could throw our money at, I left all the wheeler dealing to her, a very wise decision on my part! My sister has an infectious confidence and strength that has helped me endlessly when I start to feel those dreadful artist doubts! So it’s no surprise that by just stopping at a stall she inadvertently moved my project forward, if she hadn’t who knows where I would be now.
It was at the most amazing stall, absolutely heaving with old postcards that the cliché lightbulb moment struck, I saw written on a piece of card ‘Children’ amongst a sea of tabs. Drawn to it straight away I went to investigate and found the most moving selection of photographs and postcards, all showing the most wonderful characters whose voices deserved to be heard. The idea that these children have lost their connection to their family and are just floating out their in the ether really struck a chord with me and chimed with my work. Thus the idea for my own photographic archive of lost voices was born. Growing in ever increasing size it provides me with endless inspiration and source material for my work.