Still Lives



As my eye wanders away from the view from my window I cannot help but pause on the variously cluttered corners of my home, which I photograph almost compulsively as the days go by. They remind me of the familiar 'still life' (is the plural 'still lives' then?). According to the Tate's website 'still lives' includes all kinds of man-made or natural objects...anything that does not move or is dead' (hence the French term 'nature morte'- and the distinction between 'dead nature' and life that is still is also fascinating to me but beyond my scope here). Traditionally the still life could be composed of 'cut flowers, fruit, vegetables, fish, game, wine and so on. Still life can be a celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, or often a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life'*. No wonder then that these days as the pandemic rages around us so much of our attention is given to food and cultural consumption nor is it surprising that I am drawn to the objects we surround ourselves with. So what do these objects we are surrounded by say? what stories do they tell?

One of the weekly prompt asked precisely that - which objects in your home are important? Unsurprisingly personal objects came up - on several occasions- photo albums or a pin board of family memorabilia, a preciously collected object brought back from foreign travel as well as some mundane ones such as the carefully drawn coffee pot and pan left in the sink. They are indeed all 'still lives'. They can be viewed as 'a celebration of material pleasures or as 'a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life' (as suggested by Tate's text). However, within the context of our new reality of social isolation we find ourselves in, they also show of the need we seem to have, wherever possible and in whatever way, to create. They imply an attentiveness, a pausing to reflect that is touching, inspiring and will undoubtedly inform the work I hope to make.




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* From Tate website https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/s/still-life

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