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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 Uncle’s death, outliving 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. The eyes, mouths, and carefully placed hands of these husbands. Their bodies leaned in, hinting at intimacy amidst the hetero-holiday crowds they were part of, and apart from

A tiny diary “The Tennyson Birthday Book” contained exquisite extracts, some of which seemed to echo their love, never heard, but which found their way into the project.

As an artist, I wanted 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. The process of going through their holiday slides was beautiful and allowed me to understand the joy of their togetherness, despite the suffocations of that era.

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

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore. SF Bennet

I Hold My Hand (Trigger Warning)
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