My Father

This installation was an exploration of my late father, Geraint Morris, who passed away 7 years ago of pancreatic cancer aged 64. The illness and death happened over the course of a year, and I felt that I missed out on learning so much about him and connecting with him as this happened at such a crucial time in my life.
This was explored through a selection of photographs, text and ephemera, which was originally placed in a living room. I then recreated the installation in my own home and took a series of photographs. 
Through the objects I wanted to explore who my father was before and after I was born.

He had kept the ship, ID card and notelets with him since he was 10 years old.

I fondly remember him talking about the ship and the card, his love of Flash Gordon and all things Sci Fi. Only now do I realise just how much these obsessions have influenced me.

I am very much my father's daughter. I constantly hoard objects and ephemera from my life. I know that, like him, I will keep some of these objects forever.

About a year ago I came across a sci-fi novel in a second hand bookshop. It was only a few weeks ago when looking over the book, that I noticed a child's name and address which someone had attempted to erase. The book had belonged to a boy from Bargoed, a town very close to my home. As the book was published in 1953, there's a chance that my father might have read books similar to this when he was growing up.

While searching for information about my father, I noticed that history has almost repeated itself in areas of my own life.

I found out that he left school before sixth form due to his stammer, as staying would have required reading in front of the school. I never thought of my father ever having a stammer or being shy, like myself. He was such a confident and friendly person, the complete opposite to what he sounded like when he was younger.

He went straight into a job before going to Coleg Harlech, an adult education college, at around the age of 22/23. I remember he told me that while he was studying there a part of the college burnt down. A few years ago I found photographs of the burning building, seemingly the only photographs I could find that he took at that age. He then went to Bristol University to study Law. However, he left due to eyesight problems and began working in Cardiff.

After I graduated from university, I too travelled to Bristol, but to work. I left a few months later as I hated the type of job it became, and found a job I enjoyed in Cardiff.
I only recently found out about my father travelling to Bristol when he was in his twenties, but it's so similar to my story.

My fathers real passion was music. He dreamed of being a professional classical singer and was a member of the Rhymney Silurian Male Voice Choir. Due to his commitment and enthusiasm an award was named after him, a lasting legacy to his love of music. One lasting memory I have is of him singing The Reverend Eli Jenkins Prayer at chapel. The prayer is from Under Milk Wood, by Dylan Thomas. He loved the play, as it so interestingly portrayed a small Welsh village, but the prayer was his favourite excerpt. After his death, certain lines from the prayer became more poignant, in turn embedding my own interest in the play.

While I was growing up, my father never seemed to understand my love of art. It felt like he was disappointed in me for not choosing music. I think he regretted not going after his true passion at my age. But I'll never really know.

As much as my father said he didn't like art, he was an incredibly creative person.

He loved photography, which is proven by the fact that I could not find many photographs of him at my age because he was always the one taking the photos. I mainly found photographs of him and his family at the beach. It was so strange seeing these photos without really knowing where they were taken or stories of the trip.

There are so many cameras at home, which had belonged to him or his family. One of these was a box camera I found which still had a roll of film inside. I was able to get it processed and some very murky images emerged. They were of children on sleds in the snow. I vividly remember my father telling me how they used to go down one of the steep hills in my village when it snowed, and he and his friends would stop traffic so they could sled all the way to the bottom. The photographs might not be of him but I believe they are. It felt like something had been left behind for me to find.

Both myself and my brother love photography and I can't help but think it's because of him that we do. I'm always the one taking the photographs now.

While looking through some ephemera my father had kept, I found a parish leaflet from my local church which contained the date and age at which my grandfather had died.

I never knew my father's parents as they both died before I was born. I remember going up to the cemetery with him to see their resting places and they were some of the only times I saw him cry.

The leaflet revealed that his father had died when he was 28, still quite young. It also revealed that both he and his father died at the age of 64.

This is a small notebook with a pin up image on the back. I always remember playing around with it when I was younger. A few months ago I came across it again after graduating. I think that this book has subconsciously influenced the way I work and is partly why I am drawn to 50s images and small objects.

I think it belonged to my Dad or one of his relatives as my Mum has no idea where it came from.

Unknowingly, a lot of what my father collected and did hugely influenced me as a person and my own artistic practice.