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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 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 an artist, and as his niece, 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. 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 died 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

I Hold My Hand (Trigger Warning)
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