Mar 12 2012: Eight Colour Photographs From The Home Guide To Deep Freezing by Audrey Ellis (Hamlyn, 1968)

Taken from The Home Guide To Deep Freezing by Audrey Ellis, a 1968 guide to cooking, storing and otherwise getting the maximum use value from a chest or upright domestic freezer in the kitchen, these eight images seem to try and compensate for the relative sparseness of colour within the book as a whole (the pages and pictures are mainly monochrome)  by almost ludicrously heightening the colour within the few images that did manage to warrant it within the publication budget. The housewives seen here are obliged to work in post-minimalist blocks of yellow and blue so strong they repel shadows and normal textures to create a kind of limnial, floating space in which domestic activity – predominantly childcare and cooking, or, occasionally, both at once – seems to take place outside the confines of ordinary reality. That the food, when this is pictured (as in the quasi-abstract image of a well-stocked English Electric chest freezer seen above) carries its own psychedelic colouring is all the more reason to wonder at the distinction being drawn between real home life and and fantasy vision of consumer ecstacy. Some of these images feel like Madonnas painted by Richard Hamilton rather than the illustrative photographs in a practical guide, and in their way they’re as distinctive a format for propaganda – and as beautifully achieved – as the sixties posters of idealised urban life found in places like Russia and China around the same time. They even contain their own concealed designs on the viewer, insofar as the The Home Guide To Deep Freezing appears to be as much an advertising vehicle for a small group of white goods manufacturers as a guide to the uses of freezing itself.


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