Some reflection on my on-going project I AM THE DOOR, written in 2020 at the start of the end of the coronavirus lockdown in the UK.
For some years I have photographed blossom or made work about it, sometimes on location, other times in the studio or darkroom. I am used to looking out for the early signs of spring as my thoughts turn to this on-going annual project. I call it ‘I Am The Door’. I note the daffs, then spot the earlier white blossoms (Blackthorns, I think) and I tune in. I don’t want to miss my favourites - the apple blossom and the top-of-the-pops, sugary pink cherry blossom. At first It peeks out , then explodes like popcorn, heavy and perfectly pretty in the most amazing shade of lipstick pink. Ready for its close up, a million little lenses point upwards. I am well aware of the photographic appeal/cliché.
In 2020, at the start of the UK lockdown, while we adjusted to the new realities of Covid-19, spring did its usual thing, but this time more of us seem to be paying attention. As our everyday was turned upside-down and inside-out (or outside-in) we peered out of our windows or trotted out on a short walk….and there it was. Nature, still on schedule, moving on with its cycle of magnificent displays. Precious and important.
The new out-of-the-ordinary situation made me think about the familiar nature in front of us and the
fleeting season of spring and beautiful blossom as being even more important than ever before. To more people perhaps. To all of us. Maybe standing in place for the fleeting desires we might have had for the largely pointless stuff we were eyeballing in shop windows, just days before lockdown.
Nature fed us - a much-needed, universal, free-of-charge pick-me-up.
This year I worked in my garden and made a muse of next-door’s apple blossom. I cut the blossom from the tree and squashed it under glass, I lit it with flash mixed with bright direct sunlight against black or white backdrops and looked at it reflected through mirrors. I wanted to make a comment on the precious-ness of it all. Glass and mirror is used to make reference to the way we view expensive objects shiny and polished, protected under glass. To elevate it, package it up and say this is important.
We could follow better ideas that the world has to offer – in place of the imported capitalist garbage like ‘Black Friday’, give me Hanami, the Japanese tradition to toast spring with friends and neighbours under the blossom trees.
Time distorted under the covid-spring, it bent and stretched, it seemed to simultaneously stand still and move quickly. It reminded me of the impetus for this on-going body of work. I spent the spring of 2005 ill and worried, off sick and not feeling great, nature helped. I sat under massive Hackney trees and hoped I would be OK..…eventually I was diagnosed, it was cancer. Springtime…became a theme for me in my work.
15 years on, in spring 2020 we are asked to reduce all the noise in our lives. Some of this noise is greatly missed. Some is not. We wonder at nature and how amazing it is. What a gift. How the balance has moved – what is important? What is key? What is essential? What do we need? What is helping? Governments all over the world are asked to use the power they have, really use it. Meanwhile if you are bored (or photographing blossom in your garden) then you are probably one of the lucky ones. There is a horrid pain at the inequality of it all.
Hope is important – we all must have some hope. For something else that is better than this. A vision of a different society. I hope and believe in nature and the there-ness of it all. Look and let it help you out, if you can. Look and breathe it in, on your daily walk or run or whatever. This time will pass, right? Next year the blossom will be here again, fingers crossed, without the bloody virus.