This weekend I shared the current edit of the work with two groups; on Saturday with the Thames Valley Group and on Sunday with Forum, a print group I set up over a decade ago.
For both groups I wanted the viewers to have individual experiences of the work, not a coupled sharing where two or more viewers looked at the work at the same time. Similarly I wanted any discussion on the work to take place after the work had been reviewed by all of each group.
Overall I am pleased that most, if not all, of the viewers found in the work an emotional response, but more than that, it evoked differing responses as much as their individual experiences with their own fathers had been. I had contextualized the work similarly in each case, saying only that the work deals with the on-going relationship I have with my deceased father.
There was common accord with readers in evoking memories of their relationships with their fathers, I am very pleased with that, and whilst the TVG spent some time discussing the text, both as a pacing element as much as contextualising the narrative – both as a positive and negative reading of that relationship – it was Forum who also inquired about the artefacts as much as the text. I wonder if it is because of their practiced craft of printing that distinguished the different aesthetics of artefacts over landscapes; inquiring about the deliberate setting of both. I had made that decision, to image the artefacts coldly; full tone renditions and holding nothing back in terms of information. Whereas the landscapes are all muted, deliberately ambiguous, withholding evidence for the viewer.
Additionally the Forum group focused on the interruptive effect of the artefacts, the use of the jewellery to interrupt the flow – add punctuation – and to introduce ‘him’ to the conversation “it is your father”.
One thing that did concern me was one of the texts. Both the groups had at least one viewer discuss that the text about the ha’penny provided a nuanced vision of my father, something that “I had wanted to portray” about him and to some extent, according to one viewer it presented a sentimental narrative – something I hadn’t either expected or craved. I will consider very carefully about editing this text/removing or replacing it.