My Nanny died when she was 80. I was 18. What I remember of her is childhood memories mixed with the innocence of childhood. What she left her family is an abundance of photographs of her family and friends organized in albums. Some images take on the look of postcards because they are mementos of her travels. The sentiment of these notes written and sent home express what I imagine she wished for the receiver of the card: that they were there with her to share her experiences of travel.
I share my grandmother’s love of photography and her desire to be photographed. I have spent most of my life making self portraits that speak to my experiences as a modern Aboriginal woman. Looking over my grandmother’s album, I have been drawn to certain images of her. These photographs stand alone as portraits of a free spirited Aboriginal woman. They describe a time of her life before I was born, as well as times in my childhood.
I have entitled this series “wish you were here” to express both her sentiments and mine for her. I wish she were here. In order to create a conversation with my grandmother and her past experiences, I have combined the photographs she had taken with contemporary photographs of those places. By merging two photographs, I am expressing my desire to see my grandmother’s portraits in the context of my contemporary images of the places she had been. I see my series as paying tribute to her continued presence in my life, as well as acknowledging her strength and sense of adventure.