All that’s left of him

“I remember my dad taking me to school, when I was very young, when my mother was ill.

The feel of his huge hand wrapped around mine, rough and hard and warm.

The length of his strides, and having to run to keep up.

The very cold days when he’d wrap his scarf around my face until it almost covered my eyes, and when I breathed in I could smell him in my mouth, damp cigarettes and boot wax and the same smell as his hair when he said goodnight.

I remember how safe I felt, wrapped up like that, blinded.”

“if nobody speaks of remarkable things” John McGregor.

” I just did the objects as we moved and packed them at the Ash (Ashmolean), tiny things to large quern stones, with a photographic stand etc, most of them turned out okay, but they were for record purposes only, not studio type photos.  And the light was not always good, the sun came across the roof so we got shiny bits on the photos.  For arch (archive?) objects we always do the back and front if appropriate, ie coins. Obviously as close up as possible to see the detail, but avoiding unfocusing. I also used small bits of plastozote (firm foam type material) to hold small objects like rings if I wanted to photo the front, (the intaglio or jewel in the centre), otherwise the photos would see the rings or such objects on their sides if not held in place..” Christine E, retired archivist Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The colour temperature isn’t matched, the scale is slightly different – but I suspect it is, like most things, about practice and I shall continue to do so. I wanted to start with his signet ring. It was cut, along with another ring, from his fingers. Signet rings are about identity, usually engraved with initials, I can only see the slightest possibility of an identifier. What I see clearly is a very thin band covered in evidences of work.


6 thoughts on “All that’s left of him

  1. A type of forensic approach which is intriguing. I find the top image somewhat disturbing and have been trying to work out what it is. I can see it’s been distorted and there’s what looks like an eye, mouth hair. Or is it a stone or a pebble or a small skull. This approach is certainly going to keep me involved and curious!

    • The picture is worse than I though then! It is the face of the signet ring that my mother passed to me after his death. There are plenty of examples of ring pictures from the archive web-sites that Chris provided links for that showed rings ‘face-on’ and a side view. Mmm, it isn’t supposed to be ambiguous, so I better think a little deeper about representation. Thanks Catherine.

      • Are you sure the ring isn’t showing a reflection of something? To me the ambiguity I perceive fits with the quotes, as if there’s an underlying story about something else; Maybe you don’t want to be as ‘open’ this time around though.

  2. I thought the same as Catherine. The ring in the first picture had some sort of reflection. My thought was hair too. And it does feel a bit disturbing – in a good way.

  3. Well Michael and Catherine, I suspect my forensic approach needs to be much tighter, more technically refined perhaps. I wanted the items to have a lack of imbued emotion, I was hoping for them to have associations which would perhaps progress the narrative – in an ‘open’ way . I now wonder if that is at all possible…..
    Thanks for the feedback.

  4. The quotation speaks with the items so it introduces emotion and sensory experience. Also, I know that isn’t what you planned but, in a sense, my perception of the first image, means that an element of openness has been added which allows me to construct my own narrative.

    I’m seeing that reflected image as being you as you bend over the ring although I know I could be wrong. Also, it connects you with your father.

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