Elizabeth Sarah.

Categorised as ART., PHOTOGRAPHY.

Elizabeth Sarah is in the process of documenting her 92 year old friend Hannah’s house. I, for one, love old people and all the stories they have. People tend to treat pensioners like babies, and I know saying ‘I love old people’ kind of gives that impression too but some of the best conversations I’ve had are one’s struck up on the tube by, say, an elderly man who had been celebrating with his war-time friends in a pub nearby and had drunk enough to give me the run-down of his entire war experience. It was way more interesting than any conversation I’ve ever had with a socialite in East London keen to impress me with whatever meaningless art project they’re about to embark on. We asked Elizabeth some questions about the project and she gave us some of the initial photos with an explanation behind each.

What inspired you to start the documentation of the house?
I was brought over to Hannah’s house to meet her. She is a 92 year old, long time friend of my boyfriend’s mother. I was “warned” prior to walking in that I would LOVE her home. I did. We sat and spoke for a while as my Polaroid SX-70 hid away in my bag. The small talk passed some time, when all I could really think of was using my last 6 frames on her house. Eventually, I worked up the courage to ask and I went off venturing, and carefully selecting which details to document. It was agony when the sixth frame developed, only because there was no more film to use. I wanted to document every nook and cranny of this place! Fortunately, Hannah fell in love with me just as I had fallen in love with her [and her home] and welcomed me back anytime.

Did you learn more about your friend from capturing images of her belongings?
There are stories to learn from her which I haven’t yet. The photographs and treasures she has are endless. The few stories I did learn, make the photographs I created from those nostalgic objects so much more meaningful to me.

Why choose to do the series on polaroid?
I chose Polaroids mainly because it is my favorite film. For this particular series, it also happened to be the camera I had with me when the project began. However, if I had the choice to start all over again, I would still choose the same medium.

Which is your favourite and which is Hannah’s?
My favorite so far is number 04, which happens to be Hannah’s favorite too! When i showed Hannah the photos I’d taken of her home, she took my hand and pulled me back over to this spot by her kitchen table. She told me that it meant a lot to her that I had chosen this as one of my 6 shots because it is her favorite thing in her entire home. She went on to explain to me what each piece meant. I could tell how happy I made her.

This was the first thing that I photographed in her apartment. This plant hung straight ahead in her dining room and the light called my name so I chased it – and I got it!

Not everyone has a sofa in their bedroom, but that is what makes Hannah’s house so lovely. Every single room has separate areas, fully decorated with the most perfect details and touches.

Some people tear down outdated kitchens, and some people thrive in them and appreciate their irreplaceable charm. Hannah does not have anything modern in her house and has no plans of changing that. These rooms may seem old fashioned to everyone else, but to her they are in perfect working order with full function and beauty.

When I showed Hannah the photos I’d taken of her home she took my hand and pulled me back over to this spot by her kitchen table. She told me that it meant a lot to her that I had chosen this as one of my six shots because it is her favorite thing in her entire home. She went on to explain to me what each piece meant. I could tell how happy it made her to share all of those priceless memories.

This is the light switch that lights up that dreamy dining room when the sun sets at night. The golden wallpaper has a rusty velour pattern on it that just screams, “feel me!” so I did. I hope hannah doesn’t find any fingerprints!

Most of these fixtures don’t last as long as they do in her home. Everything is in perfect shape as if they were purchased just last week. This just makes me think about how much we take our belongings for granted and take so little care.

“No one lays on my bed spread! Not even me!” was the response I was given when I requested that she lay in the middle of her bed to pose for a photo. I also learned, once she had respectfully declared that she not be photographed I respect all of my subjects, living and still. After she taught me a thing or two about how things are done I went on to photograph her neat, pretty, pink, floral bed.

words & photos Elizabeth Sarah.

www.elizabethsarah.com


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