At the weekend I finally went back home to the little seaside town in Scotland where I grew up. I haven’t lived there for around twelve years, and have only gone back briefly for visits to ‘safe’ places like my sister’s house. It’s taken me a while to build up the courage to face revisiting the places that in my head I consider to be ‘dangerous’. Dangerous emotionally, but dangerous to me in a physical sense because of what happened to me in those places.
Normally I’m so desperate to share new images that I’ve taken. There’s such a buzz to be experienced from creating new work and even though I know that I’m not the best photographer or artist, when I’m happy that something has come out the way that I wanted it to, I want to share it. I’ve put off sharing a new Polaroid from my trip home because it’s the first shot from my self-portrait project which I am shooting there. It’s so important to me that each image is ‘perfect’. More so because each place has a story and it’s time for me to acknowledge that those stories happened to me. For that very same reason releasing the images is a bit scary. I’m going to be exposing a lot more of myself with this project, but for me it’s time to face those demons and let them go. Each trip will be another step towards that.
I’m so grateful that I had my friend Alex as ‘hauners’ for me on this first trip home because for starters some of the locations weren’t easily accessed on foot. They’ve built a bloody motorway through one of the walking routes! On a serious note, I’ve been very afraid to seek out these childhood play places because I still recall the feeling of fear when I was there on those days and what happened, and just how far I was from my Dad. It’s a bit silly really I suppose when you’re a grown woman but when something has happened to you as a child, when you replay it in your head, you’re still that same child. From remembering how hard it was to see over a wall because of how wee you were, right down to the worry that you were going to get into trouble for being late home and having to explain what had happened to you. I never have explained what happened.
I don’t know what I was thinking would happen when I went back there as an adult. That those monsters would be there waiting to get me? There wasn’t anyone there but Alex and I and I wasn’t scared anymore. I told Alex about what happened to me at both of the places we went to, and he’s started calling them ‘Dee stories’ – they begin happy and have a horrific ending. It’s hard to take in the enormity of a situation when it’s happening to you and it isn’t until you describe it to someone that you see it. Usually it’s written all over their face. It’s why I didn’t tell anyone then and it’s why I’ve chosen to document these things all of these years later in pictures instead.
The goal for this project isn’t just the catharsis however, it’s also about how I’m going to present it all at the end. I’m not even sure how long it will take me to complete and until it is completed, there isn’t an end-goal in sight. A book possibly or maybe an exhibition. The exciting thing is that this project is going to be documented as it progresses – there will be more news on that soon. Currently, my plan is to present each image in my blog with whatever I feel fits it. That might be some text or a story or a poem. I have no idea. Until I go back to each place and make each image, I won’t really know.
So here’s the first image in simple scan form. I’m planning to make it into something else when I’ve experimented with various printing techniques, and will probably post it in it’s final form when I have decided what that will be.
Thank you to Alex for taking me home.