In keeping with the theme of domesticity so often expored by myself and several of my friends and co-makers, I considered how rarely I actually write domesticity. Most of what you’ll see here regarding domesticity is photographic. This might be a little about selective intimacy. I notice that I do write about my space in great detail when writing to close friends. In those cases I actually get as descriptive as I can so that they can maybe feel a little bit of where I am. I am so geographically far away from some of the intimate relationships I continue to foster and I try to find creative ways to maintain that intimacy across distance. That is not an easy task and I certainly can’t claim to do it in volume. I have found that it’s often more expressive for me to convey an atmosphere or a quality of living than to give updates on my job or my social life or my progress or lack of progress on a particular life goal.
I wonder, though, whether the photographs of the space I occupy are any more descriptive than those textual conveyances, and generally, which medium is more suited to exploring domesticity. And whether that’s even a question. Looking into someone’s space is such a curious and engaging action, one of relating to dimension and color and light and the ‘inner spaces’, the ones that rest between objects – that’s where you find the most detail about the life this person lives. What does it actually mean to read someone’s space? When we read about place we often build things up around ourselves in order to connect with the text and the space it’s standing in for. To read a list of the items in a tiny ceramic dish on a dresser may not have the effect of seeing those items laying in the dish. And so I think about how I might approach writing my space into someone’s intimate knowledge. How do I take it apart so that someone else might build it back up?
At present I’m meditating on a domesticity which I always find inspiring. When I walk into my friend’s farmhouse, I feel as though everything within it has been built for my aesthetic eye. The colours, the shapes and lines, the space’s openness to day and the way light floods into it and then trickles back out. This space is not mine, and so if course it’s easy to romanticise it, but then again, it is romance. And nostalgia and humility and breath. It’s a space that has very much merged with its immediate environment, which means that the things that happen on the outside so too must happen on the inside, bringing you into contact with its teeming ecosystem. Sometimes that’s exhilarating and sometimes it’s unsettling.
I probably have as many photographs of this space as I do of my own domesticities. Every time I go there I spend time trying to capture the constant aesthetic stimulation it stirrs in me. There is more there than I could ever hope to photograph, unless I coud spend all of my days there – and I feel that I just may, someday. I find no words adequate to help you build it up around you, and so again it’s the image that I use to stand in for that feeling of familiar bliss. There are many so there’s a gallery.
It was brought to my attention recently that I never take photos of exteriors. I stay inside the dwellings I describe. I don’t even really think about what things look like from the outside, I suppose because I never even make it there – there is so much to get caught up in on the inside that I can’t imagine the grand scale of ‘outside’. Which makes me think about my friend Kate‘s recent work – she’s been exploring exteriors quite a bit and I haven’t asked her about that yet. Check out her work, you will find a voluminous body shaped by great care and skill. She fills out the discussion of space and domesticity and ‘home’ nicely.
I’ve got a lot of books I’m wading through at the moment, lots of cookbooks and books about slowness, but when I have cleared my mind somewhat of these subjects and have some room, I think this book is in order. Here’s a lovely little piece inspired by the ideas within it, though I wonder whether you could apply that particular concept to a domestic interior space.