Yesterday, I drove to the hills to meet with Imogen; the first session for my series of portraiture in isolation, exploring the spaces and activities, and beauty of isolation. During the session we had no contact, we spoke on the phone for one and a half hours, and all photographs were taken through the beautiful windows of her family home.
I find the sometimes vulnerable process of opening up to a stranger through portraiture can be a catalyst for speaking about deep issues very quickly, but I have found that during this time of isolation, almost all conversations naturally head to much deeper topics.
We spoke about the meaning of home, and travel, and how spending a winter in Iceland has strangely prepared her for this time in her life - through appreciating what is really necessary to survive and feel at home in a space, the importance of routine, and the feelings that resulted after the snowy quarantine had lifted.
We spoke about the way this new way of living has affected our purchasing - I have definitely sought to bolster my self-esteem with a colourful new dress, or a sparkling eyeshadow many, many times in my life. The much lessened access to retail has made every purchase I make a much more considered decision, and one taken far less often.
We were struck by how much intimacy could still be shared on opposite sides of the glass, unexpected and reassuring. Describing the experience to my partner though, I couldn't quite put into words that it was somehow... different to meeting someone. There was still one more barrier, even though we spoke about such intimate things, and I was close enough to photograph her eyes and hands. I was trying to describe to him that there was still something kind of missing; meeting someone without any of the ritual or theatre of a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a shared space to occupy.
We spoke about flowers, and floristry.
We spoke about how we are told it is ok for us to not wear so much makeup; because our skin is beautiful as it is - we however must make sure to purchase all the necessary skincare products and serums to keep it that way, OF COURSE.
We spoke about our shared optimism that we will all collectively carry lessons learned from this unique time throughout our lives, and once we are free we look forward to the massive outpouring of love and joy and energy that we will share once the lockdowns are lifted.
I reflected on the quiet moments of inspiration that I've been experiencing as I rediscover my empty neighbourhood on long walks - time usually spend cycling in place inside a gym. I found a park 900 metres from my home that I never knew existed, and many gorgeously tended yards that I usually drive past in a car.
Finally, because I am a massive sap, whose favourite book is Le Petit Prince, a few of my most favourite lines that feel very important at this time.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
"We do not record flowers," said the geographer.
"Why is that? The flower is the most beautiful thing on my planet!"
"We do not record them," said the geographer, "because they are ephemeral."