Your family features heavily in your work can you tell us why? how do they respond to your work?
From the moment I fell in love with making art I have used my family as inspiration. I guess it could be considered easy to make work about your own family but I find it can be very difficult at times. I made video piece last year, which explored the journey my family made for my paternal Grandfather funeral. It was a therapeutic experience and in some ways I wouldn’t have made the work if it weren’t for my parents encouraging me to do so. There reasoning was I took photos of him while he was alive so why wouldn’t I explore his death. A lecturer once told me that your family and home is the most beneficial to your practice. Most of my work comes from a desire to know family members who died before I was born, like my maternal Grandmother and Aunt.
My family are really supportive. My maternal Grandfather was a keen photographer, showing me how to use his first Minolta camera, which I still use today. My Father is builder by trade but in my eyes an incredible painter. They only ever question my artist endeavours when it comes to colour choice, they have self-diagnosed me as colour blind!
Can you talk a bit about the archive and your interest in this?
The archive is an obsession of mine. I feel it’s just how my mind natural works, how I perceive and organize the world around me. Photography’s strong attachment to memory and the archive is why I work within the medium. I use the archive to confront my own issues with mortality, it’s a way to reassure myself that I wont be forgotten or more importantly forget. From my undergrad research of the archive I learnt about Marianne Hirsch and her theories of ‘Postmemory’. Postmemory put simply are second hand memories. These photographs for example hold first hand memories that my Mother, Uncle and Grandparents experienced but for me are triggers to memories transferred with story telling and tellers giving me an insight to my past.
Also Patrick Pound the master of archive is just insanely clever!
This exhibition specifically refers to the practice of writing on the back of photographs which seems to be a dying tradition- can you tell us more about why you focused on this?
This is one of the ideas from this exhibition I wish to explore further. It’s sad to think in the digital age something that was once a ritual is no longer continued. I remember the first time I was looking through my family albums and just happened to turn them over and discover hidden treasures of information about the unknown relatives in the photograph, the original “tagging” at play. The information was often humorous, for example my Grandfather writing that his wife in the photo was not expecting (pregnant) again “just plain fat” a communication between client and developer. Other times the writing would bring a tear to my eye, for example the school class photo of my mother where she states “My best friend in form 1D was Susan Dennis but now is Annette Brown” Annette was mum’s best friend until she passed away suddenly a few years back and to see this declaration of friendship and love at such a young age is very moving.
This is the second iteration of Years Before Me how does this project differ to the first?
The first iteration of Years Before Me was composed of 20 or so floating images hanging from a wooded structure. The space of Mailbox gave me the opportunity to look at interesting ways of framing the images of Years Before Me. The restrictions of mailboxes also meant that I had to be selective in the images that I allowed the audience to see the front and back of. The installation also incorporated some elements from my other practice, which is quilt making and embroidery. I printed photographic works on silk, making small patches.
Can you tell us about how you utilised the features of the mailbox exhibition space? How did it influence the work you created?
I was really excited to think about how I could use the surrounding stairwell space as well as the heritage Mailboxes. The Mailboxes are a work of art in themselves. Their age meant that they aesthetically worked with old photographs, they did however push me to work on a smaller scale than I usually do. The wallpapers were an idea and material that I wanted to explore for a while now and although not in my original proposal for the space, the more time I spent in there the more I saw it working. The wallpaper that is folded against the wall and floor (directly below the mailboxes) is my personal favourite of the show. The small silk patches were originally to be hung underneath the mailboxes but during install it wasn’t working, I was almost considering getting rid of the whole idea, but thanks to Dani we found the perfect space for them. They hang on either side of the buildings glass door entrance, and even though they can be easily overlooked I consider them as a little “Easter eggs” for the audience who are truly looking.
What were the challenges in creating this show?
The biggest challenge was putting all the elements together. You can be looking at your own work for so long that you loose site of what is a good outcome and what is not. I’m glad I had people at Mailbox that helped me see that.
You can see more of Lucinda’s work here