Alexander: Firstly, I'd like to take the chance to ask you about how the photographs have come about, what has inspired you to visit and photograph in this particular place?
Patricia: The photographs were taken in a small town in Australia, where I grew up. My dad passed away suddenly at the beginning of last year and I traveled from London for the funeral and to be with family. The photos were all taken in and around my family home and were taken in memory of my dad.
A: The place is very open, shown in the occasional photograph in the series, but you have chosen to home in on plants and objects, can you discuss your method when approaching this subject?
P: I grew up on a small family run vineyard so my dads’ life was spent working outdoors. When my parents sold the property and moved to a smaller block of land, my dad continued to work with friends on their properties, but this also gave him a little more freedom; he was no longer working 12-14 hour days and now had his evenings and weekends free. This gave him time to tend to his own garden at home; rose bushes, olive trees, courgette plants, tomato vines, he’d grow all sorts of plants (he was also a vintner) and was very proud of it as well; it was a big part of his life.
The focus on plants and various objects was a way for me to try and gather evidence of my dad’s life, especially the 8 years I’d missed out on by living overseas. It was a way for me to collate all of these things that were important to him at some point, before he passed away.
A: Maybe it is just William Eggleston fan in me but the silence in the landscapes and objects makes me feel like I've taken a walk through the past. Relating to the title, 'Things left behind', is this something that resonates with you?
P: I guess it is a bit like that, a sense of walking through my dad’s past. All the objects in the photos relate to my dad; the tomatoes he’d grown in the garden, grape vines he’d picked to use on the BBQ, empty barrels for making beer, discarded old shirts; these are all things he’d left behind.
A: It is described as a work in progress and I get the feeling its slowly gaining momentum as a project. Do you see this as a long-term project?
P: I would like to continue with the project, but it will be a slow process. I’ve lived in London for the past 8 years, so the only chance I’d get to work on it is when I head back to Australia, which probably won’t be for another year. Having said that, the overall theme of the project relates to a very specific time in my life and perhaps it’s better to leave the project as it is; moving forward with it could turn it into something else.
A: This could possibly relate to the narrative but where are the pictures taken? The light is really interesting for setting the tone of the series.
P: The photos were taken right in the middle of summer, in a rural town surrounded by farms and vineyards. The landscape photos were taken at Perry Sand Hills. When I arrived in Australia, I’d just missed a series of 40+ degree-days but you could see the effect it’d had on the plants. The heat was very dry and hot; everything seemed saturated because of it.
A: The series has a sense of rummaging through a works pace, relating to your father, as mentioned how was this as an experience? There is a cleanness where I can see there is a fine line between emotional attachment and documentation.
P: It felt strange, definitely. I never really spent time inside the shed, it was always dad’s space and there was never any real need for me to go in there. The whole room was a collection of my dads’ things and it told a story of his life, so I was quite melancholy and reflective when taking these pictures.
A: The pictures are very quiet, its like you can almost hear the dry mud scattering in the wind. What was the feeling there?
P: I think the way I was feeling at the time comes through in the photos. Despite the fact the photos are rich in color and light, some of the objects in the photos are covered in dust or webs, or had been left to die; they’d remained untouched for a long time, allowing for a sense of loss or abandonment.
A: Are there any plans for a publication in the future?
P: I haven’t thought that far ahead yet to be honest. If I plan to continue the project next time I’m in Australia, perhaps I’d think about producing a book when I feel that it’s a little more accomplished; it doesn’t feel finished to me.
Thank you to Patricia for speaking with us.
Patricia also runs Paper-Journal.