Small Change — a concert of visual music

Portrait of a Father 1982–1994

A still from ‘Portrait of a Father’

Domesticity, we are led to believe, is essentially feminine, so the rôle of a single father is, inevitably, full of contradictions and tensions. It is often full of strange denials.

Portrait of a Father 1982–1994 is an accidental work. In this installation, the ingredients create a description that was not originally intended. It was to be called The Seasons Change but its grandiose notions about Nature—day and night, growth and decay, the progression of the seasons—were all subverted by a mundane domestic reality. The washing line dominates.

Originally, the images occupied the last few frames on odd rolls of film—frames left spare after sessions of commercial photography or bouts of dutiful snapshot-taking for members of an extended family (a single father is often pressed for cash). These photographs were made sporadically in spare moments (a single father is often pressed for time), yet they were all taken from precisely the same place, marked, always accessible, by the laundry door. After twelve years they amounted to an idiosyncratic and disorganised collection of source material.

The images were finally sequenced to create a portrait-by-accumulation—a little almost-narrative that slowly disintegrates like an incident recalled, and the recalling recalled…