Look through your own family archive and try to discover a series of portraits that have existed within this archive, but have never been placed together before.
As part of the U.K.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic my 97-year-old mother, Audrey is spending the next few months staying with Gill and me.
Audrey is a remarkable woman. Strength and resilience have carried her through her long life. The love of her life, my father William, died in June 1963, leaving her with a teenage daughter, my sister Janet, and twin five-year-old children, myself and Gilly.
How do you convey the sense of a 97-year life with just six photographs? As I’ve said, my mother is a strong woman. This chronotype seeks to convey a sense of her strength by featuring images highlighting the critical periods and relationships of her life. I created the inscriptions associated with each image following a conversation with Audrey about each photograph. Where possible, I have edited a recording of the talks and included them underneath the relevant image.
Photograph one captioned ‘He was so protective of me’ features the four-year-old Audrey with her elder brother Colin in Malta. I have chosen this image to highlight the lack of support she felt during her younger life.
Taken in 1943, photograph two “What the hell am I doing here?’ Shows Audrey sitting on a bench at the beauty spot called the Devil’s Punchbowl while on her honeymoon in Hindhead. The image does not feature her first husband, Jack. This image, taken at a difficult time, shows glimpses of the strength she has continued to show throughout her life.
Photograph three taken in 1945 shows Audrey sitting on a gate with my father, William. Both of them were Police Officers in Portsmouth during World War II. When discussing this image, Audrey defiantly says ‘I wouldn’t be backwards in coming forwards if I particularly wanted something would I?’ No she wouldn’t.
Photograph four shows Audrey pushing my elder sister in a pram near their home in Portsmouth. This image shows a strong, determined, and elegant woman. But perhaps what comes through to me is her sense of pride.
Photograph five shows Audrey with her children two years before the death of her husband. Again this shows a proud, strong protective mother. Captioned ‘That’s a lovely picture of Janet’. Janet died three years ago.
Finally, photograph six, taken on 18 March 2020, shows Audrey in Covid-19 isolation. Like everybody, she has had her life thrown into confusion. But, like all the events depicted above, she has taken the changes in her stride without a single word of complaint.