July 6 2011: Two Portraits of Two Women Taken at Nottingham Studios (Undated, c.1940s/50s)

Related in some ways to the Lost City material (a collection of advertisements from old Nottingham magazines evoking a vanished earlier phase in the city’s recent history gathered during a residency at Nottingham Contemporary earlier this year) these two sepia portraits of two different unidentified women, probably dating from the 1940s or 50s, are in many ways fairly generic. What drew me to them was less the portraits themselves (compelling as human faces always are) than the fact that each photograph has the address of the studio that created it on the reverse side. These addresses, like the Lost City adverts, seem oddly evocative. They don’t just indicate that both subjects were local, but also preserve the memory of the studios themselves, places that are no longer part of the city’s fabric. That the inscription on the top portrait has been partially obliterated and the postcard of the second was never sent also implies that both photographs have played their parts in the small dramas of falling in and out of love, or perhaps being disowned by family (it’s the inscription To Mum and Dad, love Joan that has been partly scratched out on the first picture) pushing the mind to begin (as this remark itself demonstrates) constructing fictions about both women almost on first sight.

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