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Pannoval Press

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‘My Father’s Things’

Publication date: December 22nd 2020

Photography by Wendy Aldiss

Following the death of her father Wendy Aldiss realised that, in a way, she could continue to photograph him – by making images of his possessions. Wendy went on to photograph absolutely everything that he had in 2018, right down to his paperclips. This labour of love and grieving has resulted in a fascinating and complete catalogue of the items owned by a man of 92yrs; a writer, poet and artist.

The book is a beautifully designed selection from the 9,000+ images Wendy Aldiss took. It is a 256 page hardcover book containing full colour images and fold-out plates, with a foreword by renowned Novelist Christopher Priest and an essay on ‘Dwelling in a Writer’s Home’ by Dr Margaret Gibson Academic and Writer.

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Although it is a depiction of a single person’s property, this body of work has a universality. Having to sort out the things belonging to one’s deceased loved ones is an experience that touches the lives of many. Separated from their surroundings, these images prompt the viewer to contemplate the intrinsic merits of design and utility in the objects we handle and to consider their own possessions; the importance they have attached to them and what will become of them after their own passing. Wendy was able to exploit a unique set of circumstances which contributed to the successful completion of her project: her geographical and emotional proximity to her father; enjoying 24 hour access to his house and possessions; having an understanding family; and, although working against the clock, sufficient time to photograph everything. Without these, such a task would have been impossible.

Wendy’s father, Brian Aldiss, had amassed an extensive library; almost every book on the shelves contained pages of particular interest bearing his mark. He owned recordings of music from all over the world and artworks, many his own, filled the walls. Looking at these still life images, there is just as much interest in the everyday objects such as a nailbrush, a pair of shoes, the contents of a desk drawer, as in the more unusual – his literary awards and medals.

Wendy Aldiss writes:

My father was hugely important to me. My father died the day after his 92nd birthday. Gone.

After the initial weeks of grieving the realisation grew as to how much I was missing photographing him. Taking photographs has long been a way for me to cope with upset and adversity, as well as to rejoice in people and places.

I began taking photographs of his things and that both kept me near to him and prepared me for the clearing away of his possessions. Over the following nine months I photographed everything that he had left behind following his death; all his worldly goods. It was quite a journey.

In my exploration of his world I came across things that I had expected to find – e.g. his clothes, birthday cards and many, many books – and other items that were a surprise e.g. notes written to me and my siblings, early paintings and . The resulting photographic series, ‘My Father’s Things’, comprises 9000+ images, many of them surprisingly beautiful.

On seeing the draft Philip Pullman wrote, “This is a book to pore over and marvel at, beautiful and funny and moving. I loved it“.

Neil Gaiman has written “When Brian (Aldiss) stepped off the stage, I am glad Wendy Aldiss was able to chronicle who Brian was and the space he had filled by the things he left behind him……..the cumulative effect is one of grief and remembrance, of celebration, and, at the end, of love. It’s like being welcomed in. It leaves me wondering what I’ll leave behind

‘My Father’s Things’; images by Wendy Aldiss
Foreword by Christopher Priest
Essay by Dr Margaret Gibson
Designed by Maggi Smith
Hardback 256 pages including pullouts
Printed by Gomer Press 2020