Voyage Around My Mother

2022-03-31 – Magazine

Family, Memories

Paddy Summerfield's Voyage Around My Mother forms a sort of coda to his Mother And Father (Dewi Lewis Publishing 2014), and represents the opening section of a yet-to-be-published essay World Without End. This is its first appearance in print – and we are duly grateful to Then There Was Us magazine. These images were exhibited as part of Photo Oxford 2020, one of the few photo festivals of 2020 offering actual images on actual walls, as well as the online exhibitions and virtual galleries. As with his other essays, Summerfield creates an almost cinematic narrative, with the slow time of long takes and recurring motifs.

In Voyage Around My Mother we see  the photographer's parents approaching the boundaries of their lives; appropriately they are shown on the coast, alongside the physical boundaries of sea and sky, with a western horizon expressing a sense of hope. Limited by illness and frailty, the mother gazes from the window at birds that whirl, more free than her, as vagrant as her wandering thoughts; through these birds, Summerfield offers a sense of her inner life.

Melancholy and tenderness combine in a strongly moving sequence. This is a love story, with the sadness of separation created by illness, and by the inevitable end. Unlike the universality of Mother And Father, created by distances, back views, averted faces, here we are brought closer to the characters – faces are visible, specific, expressions distinguishable. They are held by Summerfield's lens, gazing as he has gazed for decades, with the intense tenderness of a small close family, yet permeated with the sadness of inevitable loss.

Words by Patricia Baker-Cassidy

Thank you for reading

View More From:
Paddy Summerfield

Read More

If you enjoyed this article, we have plenty more to read, take a look through some of our most recent features, interviews and updates.

Then There Was Us

Hollie Wiltshire in Conversation with Chanel Irvine

The Process

Then There Was Us

Vladincin Han – A Serbian Town of Music

Feature

Then There Was Us

Altered States of Matter

Feature

Then There Was Us

Clare Hewitt discussing photography

Interview

Then There Was Us

Familiar observations with Erinn Springer

Feature

Then There Was Us

Lucy Grimes work is an array of colour that aims to make graphic design become less clinical

Interview

Then There Was Us

The Portfolio – An interview with Jack Fleming

Interview

Then There Was Us

7 Years with Photographer Alex Wheeler

Interview