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House and Home

The images in this series were taken just a few days after my dad died, very shortly before Christmas 2020. He died unexpectedly at home, from a heart condition. He was 82.

The pictures are all taken in the house that he’d lived in for over fifty years with my mum, who died a few years previously. This was home sweet home for me - the place where I grew up, and where my parents always were ... and now they aren’t there anymore. It was always a shelter and a refuge from the world, a place of fun and laughter, a place of love and kindness. It will be all of those things again for other people in time.

The only thing I could really constructively do when I got there on those first visits was to take photographs (I still do): it helped me make sense of everything. There is a banality to death that is incredibly striking. The author Toni Morrison said: ‘We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.’ There is a language in ordinary, everyday details, in the imprint of last gestures. The lights still go on in the house, and so does the heating, but suddenly the whole place has changed: it is going through a period of transformation. I will take away these objects and they will all go somewhere else. Yet, like an archeologist or a forensic scientist, I find myself looking for clues each time I visit: with many of the objects revealing much about the lives of the people who once lived there.

© Oliver Woods 2021