The Landscape as an Archive

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This body of work began with Caitlin's late Grandfather's archival photo album, which documented his time in the construction industry. As he suffered with dementia, his stories were often fragmentary and expressed incoherently. Caitlin saw a parallel between this and his photo album; which had been subject to removal, loss and reorder throughout the years. This work explores the dementia sufferer’s role as a storyteller - walking us so far through their personal archive, then stopping.

       In order to obtain the stories contained within these photographs, it involved asking her father questions in order to excavate his memories, which would have otherwise remained buried. Through this surfacing of memory, Caitlin and her father collectively connected images with specific locations - allowing the archive photograph to transform into a physical place.  The photograph therefore became a starting point, to work backwards from in order to retrace memories in a present physical landscape. This journey through place and memory not only completed her Grandfather's fragmentary narrative, but also marked a new one between Caitlin's Father and herself. 

retracing place from archive photographs 

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 The archive photograph occupies a memory space and a physical space. Photographs are objects which are both deeply personal, yet widely experienced-  not unlike the place it was collected from in the first place. Records, Memory and Space:locating archives in the landscape ‘Constancy of place,’ is a basis for establishing a strong sense of sameness. As we ourselves undergo dramatic changes both individually and collectively, our physical surroundings usually remain relatively stable. As a result, they constitute a reliable locus of memories and often serve as a major foci of personal as well as group nostalgia. Connecting both our external location with our internal sense of ourselves. Zerubave, E. Although places we have encountered previously are subject to change over time, the memory we have of it remains unscathed.   The landscape is a physical space, a placeholder for memories to be unearthed, retraced and reactivated. Although the space may undergo physical changes, our recollection of memory can look beyond these alterations. Informed by a memory, we can identify the intimate details of place, in the present landscape, even when they’re absent.      


The Body as a Landscape

Caitlin's practice considers the formation of sedimentary rocks as they provide an archive into the earth’s history. As each layer of sediment represents a traceable sequence through time, she is interested in how this can inform the way we think about place and the narratives, memories and histories embedded within it. This informed how she approached this project- acknowledging that a dementia sufferer does not operate in the chronological structure exclusive to sedimentary rocks, she began to research into the process of sedimentary rocks transforming into metamorphic rocks. This allowed Caitlin to visualise connections between this dramatic natural process and the internal reconfiguration which occurs within a dementia sufferer.  From this, she began to explore the body as a potential landscape.  



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The Body as a Landscape, The Landscape as an Archive