Ancient History is a project I undertook in Summer 2010. It was inspired by my relationship with my grandad, with whom I spent a lot of my childhood and my early artistic experiences. Just before his death in 2003 he had given me his manual SLR camera and all of his lenses and taught me how to use it. Following his death, I found out he had kept hundreds of photographs and lots of developing equipment in a room in his house. I was surprised to discover that he had been documenting and developing family photos for years. These photos came down to me.
Over the years I studied these photos infrequently but began to think about them again when I started working in a professional photo lab, developing, restoring and touching up photos old and new. It came to light that the camera my granddad gave to me was sold to him by my colleagues’ family. When the opportunity arose to travel to Naples and (one of my life long ambitions) visit Pompeii, I remembered a set of 10 or so photos in my granddad’s collection that were taken there in the late ’70s. I decided to have the camera looked over by my colleague, take it to Pompeii and retrace his steps in photography with the same camera he used, serviced by the same family, developed by myself.
This was an incredibly moving experience and I felt a sense of closeness to his own creativity that I had not as a child. As is my wish with all of my projects, this is one that anyone with a photograph and a camera can recreate. It is an excellent tool for reconnecting with those you miss/admire/want to understand and for exploring familiar or unfamiliar places.