A Memory About Memory

This morning’s Daily Telegraph had an article by Richard Dorment about Nowhere Less Now, an installation by Lindsay Seers at the Tin Tabernacle in Kilburn, north London. Read the article for the full details, but I quote a few brief sections:

“Born in Mauritius into a naval family, Seers had long had an obsessive interest in the life of her great-great uncle, a seafaring son of the Empire named George Edwards, and of his eccentric wife Georgina….

“The strange, multi-layered monologue about Uncle George and Aunt Georgina that follows is synched to a densely woven visual phantasmagoria in which historical photographs are interwoven with fakes, abstract geometric designs, animation and sequences…

Nowhere Less Now, Lindsay Seers, an Artangel commission

“We meet a large cast of characters including a man named Edward George, whose father had been a liberated slave in Zanzibar who may have known George Edwards. If I sound doubtful, it is because the story grows ever more convoluted, and by now I didn’t trust Seer, who, to say the least, is not a reliable narrator. …. But as all of this rushes past, you begin to realise that what did or did not happen to Uncle George is beside the point.

What matters is that someone went in search of him, and in doing so caused him to live again in memory.

This was the point at which a tiny bell rang in my own memory. About five years ago the Management and I went to Rome for a few days to celebrate her birthday. While we there we went on a trip to the Appian Way, an ancient Roman road just outside the city. Our guide showed us several memorials most of which featured fountains or, at least, drinking points. The idea, the guide explained, was that when people stopped for a drink they would look at the memorial and thank their benefactor. The Romans, we were told, believed that they still lived as long as they lived in someone’s memory.

Appian Way

Now, I’m no expert regarding the ancient world and would be happy to be corrected, but the similarity with Richard Dorment’s comments above is remarkable. I’ve mentioned my website about the Great War casualties on the Newton-le-Willows and Earlestown War Memorial before. The fact that I can say, for example, that Joe Betts was a champion club swinger means that he still lives in my memory, and I hope in other people’s memories.

Also in today’s Telegraph was what I thought was the most inspirational quote to come out of the current Paralympics in London. It came from Matt Stutzman, an armless archer who won a silver medal.

“Really, watching me people can only say ‘I haven’t got an excuse. I can’t say my back’s hurting or I got a sore finger; this guy’s shooting arrows with no arms’.”

Nothing to do with the Lindsay Seers’ installation! I just wanted to share the quote with you!

About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
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8 Responses to A Memory About Memory

  1. seascapesaus says:

    My Dad used to say that heaven or the afterlife was all about being remembered on earth. I know it’s not an original idea, but sounds as though it relates to the ancient Romans!

  2. What a terrific blog. Thank you

  3. clinock says:

    You always get my cogitation cogs turning. I have been trying to write down my memories for my sons because I too often wish I knew more about my parents and past family and never thought to ask until it was too late. In the process of remembering I’m sure that the ‘facts’ often give way to creative interpretations, as in Seer’s work – memory becomes art!
    The Matt Stutzman photo and quote is the most inspiration I’ve had this year – amongst all of our garbage are men and women like Matt who show what we can do and can be – thank you for this post…

    • At the closing ceremony of the Paralympics there was a lovely story about a little boy being read a book called “Treasure”. On the first page was a picture of a man with an eyepatch, a wooden leg and a parrot on his shoulder. “What’s he?” asked his mum, expecting the answer “A pirate.” “Well,” said the lttle boy, “He’s only got one leg so he must be an athlete.”

  4. EllaDee says:

    Great post. I love the way the mind works, connecting bits of this and that. I also believe that everyone/thing lives on, not only in the etheric realm but in the energy & memories they leave with us. I love digging around in family history & stories, and I don’t mind whose 🙂 Lives are so interesting. Matt Stutzman’s quote puts our efforts at day to day life in perspective.

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