I keep pieces of paper—notes, lists and doodles—on the fridge, at the back of diaries and in between the pages of notebooks. I often use them as bookmarks. Perhaps written quickly, and without much apparent conscious thought, notes and lists are objects with a life of their own. They may represent fragments of the past or windows onto the present, with the potential to reveal a great deal about the writer’s hopes and plans—embodying personal records, accidentally recorded. Knowing that a pen or pencil traveled across these pieces of paper is meaningful—they can show the writer’s thoughts and choices more than other, more substantial objects.
The first of these three notes was written during a family holiday in France in the late 1970s. It seems peaches were in season. Written at the bottom of the piece of paper is a joke—a ‘dad-joke’. Swirling marks seem to indicate another pen had been tried out on the back.
The second is a Christmas present wish-list, written by a child over the weeks leading up to Christmas 2019. The list is a mix of books and toys that were popular at that time and wished-for items more specific to the list writer.
The last of three was found while dropping off clothes at Pelican Parcels (a charity that distributes clothing, toys and equipment to families in need). Torn from a pad of lined paper, an illustration of a bird decorates the note. The letters are rounded and easy to read. The note describes a careful act, and is ended with a kiss.
This autumn I enjoyed taking part in research and route-planning for a collection of themed walks exploring Brighton and Hove. The themes encompass community history and locations of cultural and architectural significance. I worked on the cinemas and theatres walk. Brighton has long been an innovator in live performance and film-making. The walks will be accessible online to the public by the spring of 2020.
The photographs show a former cinema on East Street in Brighton. The venue passed through a number of changes in name and ownership. Opening as The Savoy Cinema-Theatre in 1930, it became The ABC from 1963 until 1986, The Cannon from 1986 until 1995, Virgin Cinema from 1995 until 1997, reverting to The ABC Cinema until closure in 1999. Brighton Rock received its world premiere here in January 1948.
Her high heels are smart and black, holding small feet. She is wearing a crisp black and white blouse. He takes her black cardigan and handbag, and puts them on the car’s passenger seat. They stand next to each other and talk quietly while she finishes her cigarette. A green apple falls onto the pavement. The tree grows in a garden behind a high brick wall. She is ready to leave. He opens the passenger door, and waits while she climbs in. They drive away.
A woman gets on a number 5 bus. The bus is crowded. She sits on the third fold up seat back from the driver. Two stops later a blue-eyed, blank-faced man sits down on the first of the fold up seats. As he does so he looks deeply into the eyes of the woman. Surprised, she looks back into his. As the next stop approaches the woman stands up, preparing to leave the bus. She turns her head to check that she has picked up all her bags. Their eyes meet again. The man stretches a searching hand towards her recently vacated seat. He folds the seat back down. She watches him find and caress the patch of heat left by her departing body.
A young man with short dark hair and pale skin is seated at a wooden table. He is dressed in black. He is folding paper napkins–lifting one corner and carefully matching it to its diagonal opposite. He strokes his index fingertip along the newly made folds. As each maroon napkin is added to the growing stack he pats them down, removing excess air. He shapes the sides with care once more, aligning the napkins to each other, and places them on the cafe’s counter. The task is completed.
I co-edited ‘Brighton’s Outskirts—People, Place, Community’ with Michele Allardyce. Published in July 2019, the book is available to buy here. We explored QueenSpark Books’ archives, looking for stories from Brighton’s edges. The book contains images from a number of archives and photographers, in addition to those taken by Michele and me. Our images were inspired by and form a response to the stories we found. ‘Brighton’s Outskirts’ contains a unique map, created by Michele, showing locations described in the book. I am grateful to Stanley James Pressfor her lovely book design.
“‘Brighton’s Outskirts’ … is one of four Archives Alive books published by QueenSpark Books in July 2019. It has been edited and produced by volunteers. With guidance from industry professionals, the volunteer editors chose a theme to explore, and selected content from QueenSpark’s online archive and elsewhere.”
“Since 1972 QueenSpark Books has been dedicated to gathering, preserving and making accessible Brighton & Hove’s histories. We do this through publishing oral histories or creative responses to local history, via books, e-books, exhibitions, events, websites and other projects.”
Four new books have been produced by QueenSpark Books, as part of the Archives Alive project. The book launch is in Brighton Toy and Model Museum at the end of July 2019. Michele Allardyce and I edited ‘Brighton’s Outskirts’. This photograph is of Happy Valley, Woodingdean.
I see an intensity in the relationship between people and dogs. I explored how this connection manifests within a commercial grooming environment, looking at practices and equipment. The three images below were exhibited in November 2018. More images from this project are here.