I visited Ashworth’s exhibition Somewhere in Time, at The Civic in Barnsley, on 13 May 2017.
The exhibition is shown as part of ‘Dementia week’. The introduction explains that:
‘Not everyone’s stories are life changing – some are happy, some sad, some very tragic, but they are real stories from real people living day to day, helping each other the best way they can’. Ashworth documents ‘just how innocent dementia can appear while quietly beckoning away our loved ones’. he says, of his images: ‘some are meant to make you laugh, others to share their pain and suffering, all real people from our community struggling and coping their best with such a debilitating condition that cannot be undone’. (Ashworth 2017)
The title of his work is Ashworth’s description of the significance of an incident he recalls while speaking to his 84 year old father. His dad, who has dementia and struggles with short term memory suddenly recalled an event from his past. He had a ‘somewhere in time moment, suddenly dropping into a time and reliving the experiences by telling his story’. This incident gave Ashworth the inspiration of joining a narrative with a picture to capture and embellish the moment.
Ashworth’s images are all in mono, which I feel contributes to a documentary style and emphasises the subjects faces without distraction. It is interesting that it is not always clear which subject in the image has the illness, and I presume that this is part of Ashworth’s message that dementia appears invisible. The thing that I noticed most was the obvious love and closeness depicted between the individual and their carers, and the determination to find the good in what is a terrible situation. These images show the strength of emotion in human relationships and how love and commitment prevail in the most difficult of circumstances.
Barnsley Civic is a fabulous gallery. In some shape or form ‘The Civic’ has existed for many years but this gallery is a relatively new extension to the old Civic Hall buildings. This exhibition starts at the bottom of the stairs and continues to the upper gallery. Below are my images of some of the photographs displayed, to illustrate the exhibition.
Roger 64, and Lynne 62
Ashworth was unfortunately unable to complete his interview with this couple because of Lynne’s condition. This image shows a happier shared moment and illustrates the continuance of humour and playfulness despite the tragic circumstances.
Stephen 87, and Emily 85
This image is named ‘The proposal’. Stephen is wearing his wedding suit and declaring his undying love for Emily. Theirs was a romantic love story of missed opportunities before they finally married. This is an example of an image where I felt that it was not possible to be entirely certain which subject had the illness. At first, I assumed it was Emily.
This image is of Adrian and his father. They used to joke about his ears. This shows how humour and laughter is still possible. To me, however, this is not an entirely kind image.
I am very interested in the lives and experiences of ordinary people and I feel that this exploration by Ashworth of a very difficult subject that includes members of his close family is a very brave and challenging undertaking.
Ashworth, A: Somewhere in Time (photographs). Available at: http://www.barnsleycivic.co.uk/events/adrian-ashworth-somewhere-in-time (Accessed 20 May 2017).
Exhibition: Somewhere in Time. At: Barnsley: Civic: (21 April 2017 – 2 June 2017)