The recent Place and Memory project has had me spending more time considering the area that I have long considered home- Hyde Park in Leeds. One way or another I have lived in an area of 2 square miles for the past 8 years and have come to know the buildings, snickets, parks and people pretty well. The act of visiting each house brought back many memories for me and I still feel a sense of ownership over them, even though they are occupied by someone else. I half expect to be able to walk back in and see my bedroom, with the various flatmates and friends and decor that I used to call home.
Considering these memories has made me think more about the idea of nostalgia. Photography is full of nostalgia, it is by definition an act of looking back into a past moment. Vernacular photography tends towards the times that we want to remember- birthdays, weddings, graduations and parties. We don't want to look back and remember difficult times. So photography becomes evidence of a perfect and unreal life that never existed- there is no wonder it is difficult not look back and sigh for good times that are gone and past. The sense of nostalgia is different from simply remembering the past. It is an immersive experience, an act of escapism that can jolt long forgotten memories to the forefront of your mind.
Contemporary society is obsessed with nostalgia- second hand furniture and clothes, Instagram's faked vintage filters, the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' posters all glorify past attitudes and designs. For whatever reason- the high speed pace of modern life, or the decline of manual production- the past seems to be here to stay.
For this project I will be creating and photographing dens. Building a den is an act of making a space where you can feel safe and secure. To return to this act is a deliberate exercise in nostalgia, a return to the past to a place of safety and refuge.
Each house that I have moved to has been decorated anew with the items that make a place feel like 'home'. They are the souvenirs of times past,surrounding myself with these objects is the adult version of making a den. For this reason I will take careful consideration as to which items will go into each space and how it is built.