About This Project

Clair Robins


Preserving the past


«From the body of work called ‘Preserving the past’ that is a combination of sentimental still-life imagery and assemblages based on postcards and personal items belonging to ‘Jean’, a close friend’s elderly mother in her twilight years. The work opens up a new visual dialogue, it reclaims past memories and histories of her life, acquaintances, and family. All shot after the sun goes down at night, just using a faint streetlight through the window and delicately illuminated by a small  torch. Making references to how at night-time our brains can often vividly recall events of times gone by, almost dreamlike memories and snapshots of events revisualised in the dark.  

Delicate linens, doilies, accessories, and handwritten postcards converge and reflect the glass qualities like the laterna magica (old magic lantern projections, hand tinted glass slide). Projecting and compiling the faint stories and memories, not just for brief entertainment, but a message. These images depict a permanent reminder of events, collections, and a museum of Jeans past memories.

Collections, personal possessions, and keepsakes are incredibly intriguing to me as an avid image maker. Why do we hold onto items from our past and preserve them? Letters, cards, notes, and trinkets often get stored away in the loft, cupboards and even the garden shed, all taking up space, and causing clutter. Are they baggage we simply don’t need, or do they serve a good purpose by jolting our memories and fondness of life gone by. Maybe there something deeper, a need to keep, curate have control and order on life. Keeping physical items gives a sense of self-worth. Hoarding souvenirs, letters, photographs is totally understandable, as you get older you tend to forget more and need prompting to join the dots. It’s sometimes difficult to really decided what is important, the present or past. Some people have no connection with such items and are happy to discard and move on, but are they not a tangible archive of ones life?

Leaving elements of our ‘history’ for others to see, reflect on and ‘keep’ possibly feels like we are silently screaming to display part of our precious existence, so that we are not forgotten. Life moves on, each person may want to be part history and have a legacy.

This work gently explores an aesthetic that offers up a portal to past realities, places visited and correspondence. Will these mementoes to be passed on from one generation to the next? Is this a precious window to Jeans past world. Boxes of possession, may be beautifully sentimental, however will they just end up at the charity shop, or auction house, or recycling depot?»


6th edition