Time was of the essence in producing these images as the buildings are to be demolished on the 27th May 2015. I managed to have enough blood extracted to make the prints. I am calling these images ‘In my Grand-Mothers Footsteps’.
As I prepared myself for this work my mind was drawn to how my grand-mother and great grand-mother would have felt when they had to step over the threshold. I was simply there to add my generations D.N.A to the building, they had their hair shorn, clothes removed, deloused and the workhouse uniform to contend with. Whilst I know the emotional damage caused to them and how that impacted on my life, I did feel a sense of sadness for their experiences and also a feeling of pride that despite all they came through it.
A few days later I revisited the site this time in the evening to project the cine film onto the workhouse exterior, this piece of work I am calling ‘From the grave to the cradle’. It is depicting how something that lived inside my Grandmothers’ died when they entered the workhouse, in their ability to love and be whole. This impacted on my father and then in his relationship with me. It contains cine film that I inherited from my Father, images taken of me of which I had not seen it’s content until the projection on the workhouse walls. The viewing was difficult in many ways as it showed me as a vulnerable child whom I know to have endured terrible incidents. It also showed a child who despite all looked to be happy and thriving. I saw the mask of normality in the form of Whitsuntide events, visits to the park and playing in the garden. I knew what was hiding behind the clothes, the smiles and the supposedly happy family scenes. I also felt a sense of pride in myself for overcoming my difficult life events. the first time in this process that I have felt pride for who I had become, despite my upbringing. I had found my way to contemplate my life from the chain of events that had gone before and their impact had echoed down the generations.
I had hoped to have the images much larger so as to show the outline of the workhouse building, but unfortunately the projector I had only allowed an image size of 6 foot tall which whilst filming in order for the images to be clearly visible I had to film quite close up to the wall.
Click the link below to view the video.