“Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been, things remain
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In from the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright”
From – Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth – by Arthur Hugh Clough 1819-1861
At a photography workshop in early 2009, I found myself in a very dark place & my images were also dark & gloomy. After a lung transplant, a close relative remained in intensive care in a coma for two weeks. It was very difficult to shake off the black feeling. Knowing my, & my family’s, trauma, the workshop tutors were amazingly supportive & when the time came to create images for a set subject I was given the title “Sea of Tranquillity”. They wanted to pull me out of the black mood & into the light. Within 36 hours, after a number of false starts, I created an audiovisual of a series of feathers which were littering the area having fallen from the pet geese which were wandering round the grounds.
The tears were rolling down my cheeks while I was making these images & thinking of my relative. When I had finished photographing these feathers, I had risen above the pain & felt that I had created a series of images representing not only the fragility & transient nature of life, but also our ability to survive. And my relative survived. A week after waking from the coma, while still in intensive care & wired & intubated, he was able to play the audiovisual on the computer on his own. As I watched him perform, I was once again crying. After a troubled & long recovery period, he is now living life better than he has for many years.
This one image of a feather for me represents both fragility & survival. Whenever I look at it I remember the help & support of my colleagues & friends & the strength within us all to keep going & never give up.
This feather suggests a tranquil moment in life when one stops & feels … & … just… is
Life is fragile. In Christchurch during 2011 we have been reminded of that fragility by the ongoing earthquakes. But our community are survivors. We don’t just float away like a fragile feather in the wind. We stay & stand strong.