• What I have begun here is to explore the idea that there is a story to be told, but that story has to find me in it. 

    The me is a catalyst. 

    The me makes work in parallel with another person.

    The me makes it happen.

    The me is fulfilled because I am making work with someone about something which brings awareness of their situation to another. 

     

    And that something matters. 

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  • She  looked  DOWN  for a 'YES' and   UP  for a  'NO'

  • I had been a carer for my mother when I was a child. I know how to care, how to nurture  -  a mother, a child or a seedling - but this was different and I was frightened. And believe me I was right to be scared. Wiz was a force to be reckoned with.

    So I suggested we could make pinhole photographs. The reasons being: 

    It would fill the day

    Her carer would have something to do

    Wiz could indicate with her eyes where to put the camera, and as nobody can see through the viewfinder on a pinhole camera (because there isn’t one) we’d all be in the same boat.

    And I knew how to do them.

    Of course she said yes. 

    I looked at Wiz.

    What do you want to take a picture of?

    And she looked back at me.

    Patiently I repeated several times

    What do you want to take a picture of?

    And she looked back at me.

    And then she grinned.

    At last I got it.

    She wanted to take a picture of me.

    So I asked if I could take a picture of her.

    Which of course I never would with a normal camera if the other person had such extreme disabilities. 

    However with a shoe box it seemed fine.

     

    It was a rainy day and the exposure was going to be somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes.

    I sat on the sofa.

    Wiz on her chair. 

    Arms, legs, head, threw themselves round with excitement and pleasure like a six month old baby. 

    I wasn’t going to get much of a picture.

    The boxes sat. 

    Full of darkness. 

    I asked if I could read to her - a piece I had written about one of my photographs which was hanging on the wall in the kitchen. 

    And she agreed.

    As I read, her body relaxed. 

    Her arms dropped to her sides. 

    Her legs stopped straining against the straps which held them to her chair.

    The light burned her image onto the paper…

     

  •  

    Which sounds simple but combine that with a convulsing body and it gets more complicated.

    Her name was Louisa but everyone called her Wiz.

    I’d met her briefly when my daughter Phoenix worked as her full time carer. And like so many others I ran from that uncomfortable encounter as fast as I could. 

    Then months later came this text. 

    I’m Wiz. Phoenix looked after me. I’m feeling low can I come and visit?

    How could I say No?

    I was both honoured and horrified. 

    How would we get her chair down the steps? 

    How would she eat? 

    What would she eat? 

    How would she go to the loo?

    And

    What would we do all day?

  •  There was something about the process

    The way we communicated

    The response of her body to my words.

     

    I knew I’d love to work with her.

    To make photographs and films.

    And we did.

     


     

     

  • Above - First portrait of Wiz                                Below -  Portrait of Wiz when we were making pinhole photos  in a bird hide

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  • ANNA WRITING ABOUT ANNA

  • I work creatively to make art with other people about things that matter. And I’m trying to write about this. But I’m finding it difficult to write an account of me, with me in it, because it’s easier if I just write about the others. So where am I, apart from here on this bed? What is it about my creativity that matters?

     

    There was a time when life gave me no time for big projects with titles which were worthy of discussion…. When I lived in a remote village in the Highlands of Scotland with small children and no money, I would go out - as soon as the ground had unfrozen enough to allow me - I would go out and snip at this and that until I’d find myself moving a plant to where it might live more happily.

    Maybe less slugs or more light.

    I’d find hellibores and primulas had left scatterings of seedlings which I nurtured.

    I had babies too, and nurtured them.

     

    But that was then and now is now.

    I’ve become a binge gardener. Going at it on rare occasions with such ferocity that I end up on the osteopath’s couch where we sort the world whilst she sorts me.

    The change in me, the change which changed everything came about ten years ago when I received a text from a young woman, a beautiful, charismatic, funny young woman who could not control any single part of her body voluntarily - apart from her eyelids.

    She talked with her eyes. And luckily they were drop dead beautiful eyes.