In Conversation with T.H.Gigg

With connotations of insularity, small-mindedness and concern for the fundamentally ordinary, to embrace a body of work as ‘parochial’ would, on my part, seem perverse. Yet the title ‘Close to Home’ apparently does just that: ‘home’ for me conjures images of an encircling comfort, safety and belonging. But for most of us this is precisely its power, both in terms of a significant aspect of our identity and the locus of our narrative history. ‘Close to Home’, though, isn’t to take up residence, but rather my attempt to adopt a perspective which is partly and subjectively ‘at home’ and partly and non-subjectively at an observational distance. Thus some photographs capture aspects of my own narrative space and identity, particularly for example in Punctum, while others show relations between couples, including their dogs, of ease and belonging – they are at home with one another.

The parochial also resides in the habitual location of many of my photographs: the generalised seaside of which we all have childhood memories and the specificity of Thanet, its apparent mundanity acting as a backdrop for many of my portraits. The ordinary, the parochial can achieve generalised significance in what they mean to us and how this becomes transformed in photographic images. But the ease of belonging confronts us with its converse; hence ‘that remark went close to home’ is redolent of an emotional fragility, whereby the camera picks up fracturing relations both between people and within places.

This fragility has its counterpart in the medium I have used for these works: instant film (Polaroid) and associated processes, including emulsion lifts and transfers. This selection of film distils each work into a unique artefact. No negative nor digital file exists. Thus I have given each picture, as with earlier processes such as the daguerreotype or other plastic arts such as painting, its own, singular identity, created in camera without the option of post-production manipulation. As a consequence, even when presented as substantial montage artefacts, they remain small and seemingly parochial works. Yet, while such familiarity can breed perceptual contempt, the layers of meaning in what is ‘close to home’ can be revealed, I hope, through a more considered and concentrated approach on the part of the viewer.