Snapshot project: Nearly Nomadic

“…instability means renting families move so often they’re nearly nomadic, making a serious impact on their lives.”  (Shelter, Unsettled and insecure: The toll insecure private renting is taking on English families, February 2017)*

For me, the disorientation was at its peak when I awoke in the mornings.  I had moved so many times in quick succession that, on waking each day, I had no idea which house I was in, which room I was in or where the bedroom door was.

“Do you have to take a photo right now?”

I never knew really how to answer this question, but I was asked it many times by my family, often in the midst of chaos and disruption. Why did I take a photograph?  I don’t know. There was just something about containing those moments in little canisters, knowing they were rolled away and stored in the dark, that helped me deal with a day to day sense of unsettlement.

So when the dust settled and the air felt cleaner, I sorted through my things and found in a small cardboard box all those 35mm canisters. At that point, I thought about disposing of them, letting them go, trying to forget that I ever took the photos.  I found myself wondering; what if there is something special on the films? What if the images, when brought together, could be of use or of interest to someone else?

So they’ve been in a box, moved from address to address to address, and added to along the way. Then, when I had stopped spinning, the box was then put at the back of the cupboard and the “project” at the back of my mind.

Not long ago, I sent some test films to a processors, just to see. Having been taken with a tiny pocket camera, they were grainy, mis-coloured, and blurred. Cheap little snapshots, but an apt reflection of a period of housing difficulty and disruption.

I have now had a couple more batches processed, but there are many still to do, and this has become a strange, slowly unfolding project that prompts many mixed emotions with every strip of negatives I view. They are what remains of a temporary and difficult set of circumstances, a lack of security, four changes of address in a short period of time.

We felt nearly nomadic*.