Going Home

“Losing love

Is like a window in your heart

Everybody sees you’re blown apart

Everybody sees the wind blow”. Paul Simon, Graceland

It is a warm and balmy summer. At night I lie in bed and listen to the sea, the reassuring sound of the waves rhythmically breaking on the shore. The scents of the garden mingle with salty air. Everything is close, still and calm. It is almost as if I can melt into my surroundings. I feel like I am moving with the world, turning as the world turns.

I feel strangely content and quietly happy. I’m glad I came home for summer.

Over the course of six days in July 2011, I spilt up with my partner, moved house and my mother died.

In a short space of time my whole life looked and felt different.

The events of the previous months had been leading up to this inevitable week – now I was running on adrenaline, underweight and dazed.

Despite this though I experienced a really strong inner resolve to create a new chapter in my life – one that would include creative freedom, financial stability and emotional well-being.

I knew that I needed to deepen and strengthen my ability to feel safe and confident in any moment regardless of my circumstances.

I reflected upon what I felt is really important in life – what did I really need?

I thought about my strengths and weaknesses, who am I, what can I contribute to society and how can I best look after myself?

I put together a very practical plan. A work plan and a financial plan with the goal of buying my own home.

But I needed something else. I needed magic. The kind of magic that makes the simple things in life exciting. The kind of magic that often comes with the beginning of a relationship.

Whilst I felt an inner strength I also suspected that people around me could see ‘in the window of my heart – they could see the wind blowing through my life’. I knew that I was ‘blown apart’ and that to begin a relationship wasn’t a good idea.

I craved warmth and a sense of belonging but I knew that I needed to generate this within myself before entering a partnership.

So how and where could I find that magic, the magic that would lift my spirits and help me feel whole again?

Photography is always my savior, guardian and provider. I am a photographer because I love the magic of light.

There was my answer. Light, mood, atmosphere, these are the ingredients I draw upon to give myself hope and motivation. The magical ingredients.

I found a tiny studio flat to rent on Worthing seafront, the monthly rent was low because the flat was so small. This meant I could start saving a deposit for my own home.

Just as importantly though the studio had big windows, lots of light and a small patio garden.

Light, atmosphere, magic. Home.

‘Going Home’ is a set of photographs made using a Box Brownie camera.

I chose the Box Brownie as its simplicity of design requires a degree of discipline to use. In complete darkness I needed to take the film off the modern spool and re-wind it onto the old Brownie metal spool before loading it into the camera. I then had eight frames to use, which meant thinking carefully about my choice of subject, quality of light and composition. Once the film was finished I needed to go back into total darkness, take the film off the Brownie spool and roll it back onto the modern spool before having it developed.

I found this way of working very grounding as I feel so at home in the dark. In fact the whole process was reassuring – I know who I am when I work in this way.

As my summer was about healing and inspiration I wanted to take this idea into the pictures too. I wanted to visually explore how the atmosphere created by light can evoke a sense of well-being and inspiration.

Maria Short Home 05