Palmer’s Photography and Collaboration (2017) has provided food for thought as deadline day approaches and I look ahead to the future of my practice. This includes my dissertation project, which employs photography as a means of narrative research.
Community and Berwick
At St. Michael’s & All Angels, Berwick, there was an overwhelming sense of community. Despite the church only being inhabited by myself, my peers, and tutors, and the occasional couple on their morning visit of whom seemed surprised to see the place so full, I felt a sense of belonging. This got me thinking about the nature of community; the imagined connections we make with others. It was not, however, the pull of religion, the practitioners around me, or even the immensity of the artworks, that encouraged this feeling in me. Upon reflection, it was the role I had been granted as a preservationist, through photographic means, whose task was simply to capture the works of Vanessa Bell, Quentin Bell, and Duncan Grant, that I held with such importance. Through my lens, I could essentially immortalise these pieces of history; I suddenly felt part of the communities who were intertwined with this legacy.
I feel a remarkable sense of nostalgia looking back over the images I captured as I prepare them for submission. Of course, as is reasserted in Photography and Collaboration, community is ‘a confusingly fluctuating and ambiguous term’ (Braden, in Palmer, 2017: 97). Through my images, however, this is halted for a moment; the history of the Bloomsbury Group, the geographies of the surrounding plains, and the magnetic pull of the divine, are all tied up within these photographs.
Of course, I apologise if I’m being a little sensationalist. However, I really did enjoy working and navigating a space which I would normally have considered as a place of indoctrination and exclusivity. This, evidently, was not the case, and has made me think differently about my own presuppositions and prejudices. Overall, I feel reassured in the knowledge that, as long as we are human, we can find some acceptance which, in essence, is what ‘community’ really means to me.