Loved&Lost is a brave exhibition in so many ways.
Utterly simple, yet also utterly complex; utterly individual, yet also utterly collective, Loved&Lost is the project of Manchester-based documentary photographer Simon Bray. This exhibition at Weston Park Museum is the first in his continuing exploration of loss and grief, captured on the beautiful Loved&Lost project website, and which began as a response to the death of his own father from prostate cancer in December 2009.
It has a simple premise. Bray has invited participants to find a poignant photograph of themselves with their lost loved one (or more than one), and has then returned to the original place to re-stage that photograph in the present. He describes the project as a way of acknowledging, even of celebrating loss, and showing that it ‘does not have control over who [we] are’. What follows from this premise is anything but simple.
From an image of his mother Anne on a hill above Winchester some years after the death of her husband Peter, to James remembering his Dad at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground, to Maike recalling her partner Paul and his Jarvis-esque glasses by the prom in Penzance, as well as having made these photographs, Bray has also collected these people’s stories about loss, capturing multifarious reflections on grief, contrasting memories, and what happens in lives afterwards. For this staging, a collaboration with St Luke’s Hospice has led to the inclusion of Kyle’s story: two photographs with his grandfather, Bob, show Kyle firstly as a young child being given a haircut in the bath by his grandfather, and then, roles reversed, giving his dying grandfather a final shave.