I Remember, I Remember (2019)

8" x 10" C-type prints

I Remember, I Remember

      by Philip Larkin

Coming up England by a different line 
For once, early in the cold new year, 
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates 
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates, 
"Why, Coventry!" I exclaimed. "I was born here."

I leant far out, and squinnied for a sign 
That this was still the town that had been 'mine' 
So long, but found I wasn't even clear 
Which side was which. From where those cycle-crates 
Were standing, had we annually departed

For all those family hols? . . . A whistle went: 
Things moved. I sat back, staring at my boots. 
'Was that,' my friend smiled, 'where you "have your roots"?' 
No, only where my childhood was unspent, 
I wanted to retort, just where I started

The above exert from Phillip Larkin's 1954 poem frames this work that is a look back over memories of childhood. I Remember, I Remember, the title directly taken from his poem, took me back to my hometown of Coventry, a place in which the poet and I share. Larkin muses on his unsoundness of growing up in this small West Midlands English city, whereas my work looks over the feeling of not belonging to the place from which you came. Navigating my memories, I returned back to my home and places I played as a young child, visiting the the trees we once climbed and the dens we built in the days when our imaginations were uncontainable.

 

To go back years later and not feel the uncontrollable excitement I once felt for these unconventionally special places affirmed my adulthood, a phase we seem to enter signifying our loss of play. The diptychs resonate my eternal presence, and present absence, from these places that I have come so far away from.