These Four Walls (A Story Still Exists Here, Part One)

These Four Walls (A Story Still Exists Here, Part One)

Photographic Diptych / 2009


These Four Walls

Enping, China, to Sydney, Australia

A story lies not in the images themselves but in the stretch of time between them: my grandfather's journey from living in poverty and sleeping on factory floors in China to playing mahjong and sipping on black tea in suburban Sydney. The two images act as markers, one being the place in which his life began and the second being the room in which he passed away.

A Story Still Exists Here

The very essence of this series of works is to tell a story that resonates for the artist on both a personal and artistic level. At the very core of the works are the basic elements of birth, death, loss and life.

It started with a clunky 1980's voice recorder and a cassette with a red label marked 'three little bears'. My mum sat down with my grandfather in hospital and proceeded to tape over the children's story with the tales of his life up to that point. As with all recollections sometimes they are vague, due in part to time passing, parts too painful to tell and the imminent onset of dementia. 

Translating the cassette from Cantonese to English I started to recall the lost conversations had over the years. The ones spoken loudly at packed Chinese restaurants over the clang of plastic chopsticks against cheap porcelain. The silent stories conveyed during countless games of mahjong and cups of black tea. 

At this point I decided the only way to I was going to fill in the blanks of his story was to revisit the places and people mentioned . So in 2009 I set off to China so that I could accurately intertwine the historical, geographical and personal elements in piecing together a family history. 

The different parts of this series act as snippets of the story, leaving the viewer to piece together the missing parts and project upon them their own experiences.