Time and Again

Artist in Residence – Marsden Girls School 2014 

My starting point for this body of work was a conversation with Marsden Archivist, Rosalba Finnerty. I was interested in discovering where historically the boarding girls had explored outside of the school grounds, where they had travelled to and why. This primary conversation introduced me to the long abandoned annual event of the Blackberry Picnic, documented in the school’s yearbook Te Kura and exquisite photo albums dating back to 1907. The more I read and studied the photographs the more I discovered other regular trips with the tramping club, seashore club, camera club etc. Photography and writing were the mediums used to record these events and all this time later I was able to revisit this accumulation of personal accounts, edited versions, generations removed from when they actually happened.

With any given piece of writing or individual photograph I was able to piece together something akin to a vicarious experience of the event passed down through these mediums; differing accounts, perspectives, of the same event. Inspired by the girls original prose, poems and accounts of events, both of personal and worldwide importance “Time and Again” retraces the steps and research aiming to create a connection from then to now. The work explores the layers of time and memory inherent in the photographic and diaristic writing processes held in the archive.

Pulling apart the alchemy associated with the peel-apart Polaroid photograph is a means of exploring how memories are recounted, recorded and held.  With this process: there is actual polaroid, the transfer of the chemical imprint of the image into my sketch book and the retrieved negative and subsequent print. None of the accounts are crystal clear, they are all eschewed by the processes involved to make them visible. You can see my hand in this process; my part in this re-editing is visible and speaks to how we remember and recall memories. There is much neurological research into to how we preserve or rather can’t preserve our memories in a true and unedited form. It is believed that every time we revisit a memory we change it minutely, infinite Chinese whispers, hence the theory that the purest memories may be held in the mind of someone with total amnesia.

“Time and Again” is about memory and story telling. Stories that make up the personal histories of this school with this work attempting to create a conduit, a sense of reflective connection with another time and place, forcing one to create personal emotional connections with each visual story.

For more on the Marsden Artist Residency click here and to see the video made to accompany this project as part of the residency click here

All Images © Copyright Virginia Woods-Jack 2020

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