Gerald was a photographer, gardener, maker and among many other things, a thinker. Introduced to each other in late 2014 by my friend and Gerald’s neighbour, I was drawn to his deep connection to his home, where he was born in 1933 and lived until his passing in early 2018. Gerald was the last surviving member of his immediate family, including seven older siblings.
Our shared passion in photography – combined with my curiosity about Gerald’s history and everyday life – meant that an enriching, if unlikely, friendship developed. I began using Gerald’s 1960s Zenit SLR to photograph him in his home, as well as focussing on the physical aspects of the building, the garden and the objects, which felt like tangible conduits to the emotions and memories that Gerald relayed as anecdotes.
Gerald lived an unassuming life; he had never married or had children nor travelled far from the village in South Wales. Yet, he possessed an enduing curiosity about the world and a desire to learn about the human experience. The natural world Gerald discovered in his garden or in the fields near his home, never failed to harness his imagine or instil delight.
The sociologist and philosopher Georg Simmel stated ‘where life and worlds intersect, they create fragments – fragments of life, fragments of worlds’. When juxtaposed with Gerald’s colour photographs, my black and white images provide an interesting convergence between our work; the content reflects the brevity of time, they speak of the very nature of life and the unique, ephemeral moments that we experience. The images illustrate how photography can be used in order for us to connect and understand the temporal nature of our collective human existence; an existence that is intrinsically tied to identity and belonging.