The fecundity of Purgatory

At the recent Thames Valley meeting I was left reeling somewhat. Presenting my work in the way I did didn’t provide me with any answers I was looking for, but did provide some very positive feedback on the work, which I hadn’t sought nor expected.

In my journal entry for the day there are three mentions of the word ‘statement’ and two of ‘position’ ( of the work); that is from only twenty that I wrote, a clear indication that this might be a good idea and also that for whatever reason my contextualizing of the work at the event didn’t do a very good job, in fact probably quite a poor job. I was of course pleased that the general feedback was positive on the quality of the prints; this despite how poor the paper was on a high number of the prints. However the exercise I had hoped for, despite the generous time allowance that I was provided, didn’t elicit the kind of reaction that I had hoped for. The images were just too ‘nice’. What I ‘knew’ them to be about wasn’t transferred at all to the audience, nor indeed a sense of what they were about and this despite my provision of texts freely distributed, and, how I talked about ‘purgatory’ as both a place and state. As fellow student Keith Greenough commented (and I paraphrase) “..the images depict something optimistic whereas the terminology (oral, written and printed) is the opposite..”.

Another edit is required, refining what I feel about the state of purgatory.

This divergence of outcome and expectancy has happened before and quite clearly I know now, if not before, that if I don’t provide a contextualizing statement then the work will not, is not, strong enough, to stand on it’s own. Where I am going with the work cannot be expected to find any resonance with anyone else if I don’t provide a framework. However I am not ready to provide such a statement at the moment, firstly because I am not ready to because I am not entirely sure what that might be, and secondly because of the nature of the work being personal.

Of the ‘space’ that is Purgatory I am tempted to invoke that notion of an ‘unsettled’ place, I am expecting some historical data that I could use as a fictional method of representation and a phrase from ‘The Offering’ by Grace McCleen comes to mind “…its most evocative aspect: fusty, acrid, furtive; suggestive of things ravaged yet fecund with time.” yet the element I am dealing with is better expressed as the bounty of memories. But it isn’t the place that I want to explore, but a space fecund as it is with memories.


4 thoughts on “The fecundity of Purgatory

  1. I think , “Fecund with time”or “Fecund with memories” both allow for an open interpretation whereas “Bounty” leads towards treasure which usually has a very positive resonance. You’ve got back into that ‘nice’ bind again! Do you think that black and white could be more evocative of what you’re aiming to portray? there are other things I could write but I’ll leave this until we speak.

  2. “But it isn’t the place that I want to explore, but the space fecund as it is with memories.” … very promising… you seem to be onto something. Have you thought about captioning the images with sounds (noise, words said… I don’t know…). The sounds of the past juxtaposed to the place… Or I am just thinking too much of echos…

    • I have two conceptions of memories, firstly those that settled in Purgatory which are, as you say, echoes and then of course my echoes that resonate in the space. There is a third possibility that I discount both of these and ‘write’ a fiction based on my reaction to the space/place. But I am grateful for your thoughts, it is very helpful to have them from you and Catherine. Thanks!

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