Wednesday, 21 March 2012

SISTER by Rebecca Palmer

SISTER by Rebecca Palmer

I wrote to Rebecca after seeing her work on Flickr. She is still a student but what I have noticed with some students is that they are not afraid to experiment. One can see a thread running through their portfolio that shows a desire to run off the track or route which has been laid down for them and so it is with Rebecca. It is clear that she is constantly searching for different angles and to develop ideas. She has a great enthusiasm for the art of photography and, at the same time, she engages with her models and the viewer.

She was very keen to collaborate with me which was very exciting and explained that often, she tries to base her photographs on past events or tragedies in her model's life and she asked if there was anything I had experienced which we could use. I told her of the illness and death of my late sister, Janet, and I sent her a film I had made about her and a performance piece that I had written both of which were called "Sister".

Over the next few weeks, we discussed locations and also an idea for a film as well as stills and we developed the former into a treatment which we intended to have a bash at filming when I travelled to meet her. It was on 21st March 2012 that we met in her home town of Stockport and made the long journey together with her boyfriend, John, a poet, to the abandoned building she had used for previous shoots. We felt a little bit unsure of ourselves because we weren't sure if we would be disturbed but, in the event, we weren't troubled by anyone. Unfortunately, Rebecca took a call from her mother who wasn't feeling well so we decided to get the stills done and try a run through of the film as it seemed unlikely that we would be able to meet as planned on the following day.

One of the abiding images of my sister's stay in the hospice was when l looked through the glass window of the door of her room and saw her sitting in a chair with her head bent down and slowly she brought her hands up to her face and clenched her skull. She was in such pain, such despair. A few days before she died, our vicar came to the hospice and she took communion with some of us in the garden. It was early October but the sun shone brightly and, as she felt fairly good that day, we went down to a local pub by the sea and all had a drink. This photograph by Rebecca was inspired by those two experiences. I am covered by an altar cloth curled up in a twist of agony and despair whilst I await my fate. I loved Janet so much and, when I think of her, she is with me again. This image speaks of her struggle against the incessant march of the cancer through her body as much as it does about the draining of dopamine from mine. And yet, and yet, there were glorious times with her as there are with me now. All is not lost. There is an answer and in time we shall find it.

So, thank you, Rebecca for helping me on my way and, in the process, taking a superb photograph.

Rebecca's Website : 

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