Overfamiliar

Sometimes the most obvious subjects for our photographic projects are so close that we don’t have them in focus. We venture out everyday, looking for something new, something we haven’t noticed before, to document it and represent it photographically. When all the time there may be a project right under our noses, yet its subject is so familiar that we have not considered it as interesting enough for photographic exploration.

The light catching Manie’s art on the wall in the hall.

Overfamiliarity has certainly stifled my interest in my immediate surroundings. That is not to say that I do not take pictures in my home. I do. All the time. But it is more in terms of documenting the changes we make in the house – a newly renovated bathroom, the un-blocked fireplace, the view into the garden. Yet the features of any house are aesthetically, architecturally and historically interesting enough to concentrate on them. 
Of course that had occurred to me, too. But truth is: Ever since I moved into this house eleven and a half years ago, I have constantly been photographing everything around me. I photographed the house with three different cameras that passed through my hands in that decade – a compact Pentax, my first SLR and finally my first dSLR. And about 8, 9 years ago I  documented the nice details of the house in a once-off photo project. I got used to the place, couldn’t see its beauty despite knowing it was there.

While looking for a subject for a college assignment, it suddenly occurred to me to force myself to examine my immediate surroundings. I knew, however, if I don’t want to simply re-take the shots that I have previously taken, I needed a different slant, a particular focus that makes me explore my familiar surroundings from a new perspective. And then it came to me: This is not just my house. It is the house that Irish painter Mainie Jellett was brought up in and worked in. (For some biographical details and examples of her art go to the National Gallery 😉 or check this link: Mainie Jellett.) And she has left her traces everywhere in this house.

So here is the deal – I will be tracing Mainie in her father’s house, look for the reminders of her life in the walls, her artefacts, her possessions, nooks and crannies that she may have hidden in.  I am actually quite excited about this project. It could be interesting for myself, for Mainie’s remaining family, for my children, possibly for the interested public.What will I see that I haven’t previously noticed???

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