My first, last love

The idol of my youth,

The darling of my manhood. Tennyson

I was in my teens when I realised the man living with my Uncle for many years was his lover. They shared a bed and hosted gatherings, yet the truth of two men in love was smothered- typical of the 60’s and 70’s, fact was whispered and often lost amongst raised voices.

After his death, outliving that of his partner, I salvaged his suitcase-full of treasured items and a couple hundred slides of visits to Capri, Venice and other 60’s-tinted locations. Small albums and slides revealed two men wearing gold bands on their second finger left hand. Eyes, mouths, carefully placed hands and a leaning-in revealed intimacy amidst the hetero-holiday crowds they were part of, and apart from. I was determined to salvage evidence of their love and give it posthumous respect.

A tiny diary “The Tennyson Birthday Book” contained exquisite extracts, some of which seemed to echo their love, and found their way into the project.

As a photographer I wanted to get to the soul of their relationship, to give truth to what they were to each other. They took the photographs- tentative representations of what they were to each other without the explicit. I felt guided to crop and re-focus- an aesthetic process led by a need to highlight their truth whilst respecting their privacy as they passed years before I undertook this project and could seek consent.

My aim for this work is simple, to evidence a love, and to honour what was then, still is.

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore. SF Bennet

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