It's been a year since the first UK lockdown, when this all became very real. Today we're sharing Jo's beautiful project featuring her parents who were shielding throughout the year, documented through Jo's lens and the windows as she delivered food to her childhood home...
The idea came to me a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, as my parents were shielding and I was leaving a weekly food shop at their front door.
On one of the visits my daughter came with me. She was blowing goodbye kisses to each grandparent on the driveway and became emotional during the journey home… “I just need to hug them, when am I allowed to hug them?” she asked through her tears.
Through My Childhood Window is a personal photographic project, a visual journal which explores my feelings and memories of each room, through a window, in my parents’ house. It’s the home that my sister and I grew up in.
I clearly remember the family bathroom in my childhood home being used as my father’s sacred darkroom. We’d all be banging on the door at different times, legs crossed and desperate to pee. To the the calm and concentrated reply from him, “just a minute, the paper’s out of the bag.”
My photography love has come from my dad and I still have the camera he gave to me many years later. The camera he made most of our family photographs with while we were growing up.
The stories from these rooms over the years I lived there, were never so strong as they were during these brief doorstep visits. I realised I needed a more focussed and creative outlet to journal these feelings and memories. A more tangible way of expressing some of the emotions we were all feeling at this time.
I was 10 years old when we took a road trip across the US. One of the ‘build-your-own adventures on a shoestring’ my father spent months organising. I’ll never forget my mother, leaning out of the hire car window. I could see the look on her face in the side mirror, complete freedom. As we drove along Route 66 with The Eagles blaring on the radio. 10 minutes earlier, she was blaring at us, over the music, telling us to stop fighting in the backseat.
Seeing a part of me in the reflections of the window glass has been deliberate throughout. I wanted to connect myself from the outside into that room, as well as to them… this house is my second home in normal times.
The creative focus that this personal project brought to us became a crucial part of our daily lockdown lives. I’d phone them to get their shopping list and during the call, we would decide which room was next, along with the memory I wanted to portray.
Planning how I’d photograph them from the outside into the rooms upstairs was an entertaining process, bringing about colourful reminders of my teenager antics. Like back in the day, escaping through my bedroom window when grounded for something awful that I’d said or done. Decades later and the logistics of me getting up a ladder onto a hot flat roof in 30 degree heat reminded me that I’ve never liked heights! Overcoming this dilemma was a task my retired-civil engineer father quite enjoyed, while my mother decided that the designated rooms needed to be show-home ready before I was allowed to raise the camera.
Looking back on this surreal time I feel incredibly lucky, to not only have played a part in keeping my parents safe and well, but that they supported me and played the leading roles in bring this project to life. It’s become more than a gift of reliving some childhood stories. It has become an emotively visual journal in an unprecedented and historical time. A collection of photographs for our own family album and its future generations to come.
You can find Jo here:
Jo's Childhood Window project is currently exhibited in Ffoto Gallery's "Many Voices, One Nation" which you can view virtually here.
It will also be exhibited in the Artizan Gallery space in Torquay from the 19th April 2021.