Unpossessed Places

Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh. March 2019

“The foreignness of what you no longer are
or no longer possess
lies in wait for you
in foreign, unpossessed places.”

Italo Calvino - Invisible Cities

This series of abstracts began as a response to the idea of Calvino’s foreign, unpossessed place. I wondered where and how one could be discovered and what would be found if it was.  

What I didn’t expect, was that for me, it would raise questions of memory, truth, loss and a lot of unfinished business…

Created with light on distorted transparent, solid and reflective surfaces these abstract landscapes are fleeting, seen and then gone, impossible to possess.


Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh. March 2019

While working on the Unpossessed Places images, making tiny movements of the camera and seeing entirely new landscapes appear, I was reminded of dreams I had as a child of flying high over unknown places and how they once held hope of escape. These thoughts dragged me back to my hanging as a two year old and the repercussions of survival. And as I struggled again to make sense of what has passed, I realised, I am an unreliable witness.

I wondered about memory and truth. How memory, like the lens, edits and distorts. And, how with each recounting, it’s rewritten, reordered and corrupted in subtle imperceivable ways, till each element may itself be true, but the truth of the whole has gone. Just how accurate must a truth be, to still be considered true? And where can it be found, if words, memory, photographs and even our eyes can lie, be manipulated, or misinterpreted.

What of my past do I know that is indisputably true?

I will never know what actually happened to me as a child, nor what has been embellished, or imagined. The effect however, has been very real. Perhaps that is my truth.

And so I wonder, if I met my younger self in Calvino’s foreign place, would I recognise the stories he shared, could he forgive how much has been lost.

This project started as one thing and is perhaps becoming another, but what is certain – it isn’t finished…