I have always pretended that there is not much to how I take photographs hiding behind the Kodak motto ‘you press the button, we do the rest’. I would have said that I take most images singlehanded and this indeed was true when my children were smaller and I focused on improvised play and the city. At the time, I resorted to light weight cameras and often photographed on the way to and from school whilst holding in one hand their lunch bags. This was possible because I worked mostly with preset programs so that I still could talk to my kids and their friends. Other times though, when movement and space were not so restricted I used a tripod and took more control of the settings. Yet I must admit that the most important thing about photographing for me is not when I press the button, it is not the moment when what can be captured becomes somewhat more finite. A large part of what informs the final set of images happens not only in the editing or in post-production but in the reflection throughout. I write notes, I ponder a lot, I scribble, I note down things that matters to me about the context. All these different processes feed then into what eventually becomes a body of work or a set of images.

Each of these methods somehow involves my hands, and mostly my left. I don’t have anything against my right hand, it is useful in assisting in whatever I do, but the left leads, decides and is at the center of the action. If there is any doubt, the various scars on it are there to prove its vital role in my everyday.

Yet since Saturday my precious left hand is out of action. It got caught in the door of the taxi that I closed after a long and eventful trip to my home country. Some would say that this is the price that I needed to pay for closing a chapter in my life. Luckily, the damage is not permanent, in the operation theatre they inserted a wire to give my broken finger a chance to heal properly. All the same though, for the next six weeks my main hand will be barely serviceable. How will that impact on the photographs that I have planned to take as part of my project at x-church? Will I expand the abilities of my right hand, discovering that it is not too bad after all? Will I ask other people to take an image or press the button for me? Is this accident likely to expand the way how I collaborate with the lovely people of x-church? Might photographing in this way be like having your eyes wide shut? Could this help me discover things that I otherwise wouldn’t have? And for writing notes? Might I become desperate enough to start using my right hand?

One thing is certain though, my broken finger won’t stop me taking images, even if they turn out crooked. If lucky, this accident will become an asset to the project and will help me to develop a body of work that I otherwise would not have dreamed of. To start off, the relationship with my camera is likely to be a bit shaky, good old black box might object for its buttons to be touched by unfamiliar fingers. But it will get there and I will get used to it. One thing though is for certain, the journey of my residency has become even more unpredictable and exciting.

This was first published as https://loosespace.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/lost-for-want-of-the-right-hand/


Last Thursday was the beginning of my residency with x-church and more or less the first thing that happened was that Marcus Hammond and his helper Lee installed a rope for the children’s project. I should add that every Thursday between 4 and 10pm, there are three groups at x-church. The first is for kids up to the age of 11, the next is till age 15 and the last one is for teenagers and young adults.

Installing a rope sounds pretty harmless. Yet, in case I have not mentioned, Marcus as the creative director, likes a challenge. When he said that he needs to fix the rope before having a chat with me I of course offered to help. Yet entering the main space of x-church I began to understand what this actually meant. It entailed climbing on a at least 10 meters high scaffolding tower, then leaning a long ladder against one of the beams, and climbing up on it. The next step involved putting a protective sheet over the beam and then gradually pulling a thick rope over it. This was a task by itself as the rope is very long and heavy. Lee was also on the scaffolding tower and helped pulling the rope whilst holding onto the ladder. Making a knot into this rope so that it is secured was no mean task either as it is at least 30 meters long.  You might wonder what I did. I also helped though with my feet firmly on the ground. I passed the rope up for a bit but mostly gave moral support. And I took images to steady my own wobbly knees whilst looking up. As you might have gathered, I chickened out seeing how high up this is and neither climbed the tower nor the ladder.

Once, installed it was rather beautiful I must say. There is a big knot at the end and kids sat on this being pushed by each other. The more daring definitely tried to fly with it! This was definitely one of the highlights of the evening for them. I hope to take some images with some of them on it soon!

The nave of the former St. John the Divine is probably one of the largest in the country and likely to be the only truly accessible ‘public’ indoors space to run and roam freely for the kids in Gainsborough. Even though Gainsborough is in the countryside housing in this particular area is dense which does not only restrict the indoors space but also what is left as public space.

During the late afternoon and evening I had plenty of opportunity to talk with the wonderful helpers of the children’s project: Carol, Angie, Izzy, and Richie, and with some of the kids and young adults. There are definite plans in place for my next visit and I will start drawing maps with some of the kids and look at what some of the older ones do as part of their art practice. Later in the evening when I escaped the cold of the nave to the café, we also hatched exciting plans involving ‘Chateau Marcus’. About this I will write in another blog.

I also must say that watching the rope being fixed with such commitment proved to me not only the worthiness, a word I rarely use, of the project but it also revealed some of the essence of x-church. That everyone engages with each other despite the large space being so cold also shows that people in the project are not only hardy but truly engaged.

A mental note to me for the next time though is to invest in some thermal underwear!

This was first published on https://loosespace.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/playing-out-how-to-swing-in-a-nave/ .