Peter Day

Pictures of My Father

That day when I entered the house of my Father, 27 Devon Way, Bailiff Bridge, Brighouse, Yorkshire, 29th July 2009, eight months after his death, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for or expecting to find: evidence maybe of a life lived, - our Book of Lives - somewhere in the now-empty house, a house now cleared from decades of clutter and functionality. Evidence then, or truths - photography after all deals with truths - and since I had spent the biggest part of my life so far, inhabiting and living in these rooms and that is true, something comprehensible and real. These were truths then or evidence of the truth, something authentic and tangible not the imaginary realities we invented and told.


What I found was space like it had never been before: empty and excessive. A vast emptiness, open in the totality and tonality of its knowledge, infinite in form, ambiguity and some memory (often vague and just then recalled) of what was there in the nothing that was still there.


I understood that the vast space of our family life is actually small. All that is meaningful is in the past. Looking from here to the future I can imagine myself disappearing and re-appearing further down the line but always framed by this time, this small vast oppressive space. Here where time seems eternally present, space is a great deadener, it imposes itself and conf irms everything that is absent.



I am here and the house, its objects, their meaning and remembrance, are not like this but full. I remember full. Rooms full, before space closed in, of furniture, tokens and mementoes - but here and now even a plug socket seems precious, now it is devoid of the familiar geography of then, the past defined by the same objects that were familiar and comforting. Then, is a place to which we all return less often as we grow older, as time passes and the memories soften.


Space is desirable and has meaning, is definable. It is appropriated as metaphor where absence is not appropriated, as here in this place where not even a thought or desire is left. The absence here of all our traces and meanderings means that life simply renders us the custodians of that which is invisible, so that we are constantly becoming and not-being. The not being erases all meaning. There is nothing left, nothing left of that which was entrusted to my earliest consciousness and curated there for us, the survivors.