Perennial / Clare Lyons

Clare Lyons

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Perennial / (2016)
For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to them. Life at the scene of death, love at the site of tragedy. A way of maintaining the life and the memory of a person in a deeply personal way, presented so publicly so that it can be seen as a warning, reminding passers-by of their own mortality.

The creativity and dedication which is evidently involved in the creation and maintenance of the memorials is both admirable and heart wrenching, evoking questions of the kind of emotional turmoil one goes through during a period of grievance. The longing for something physical that will remain long after a loved one is gone, a site which can be visited to mourn, the site which is the place this person took their last breath.

But how can this be compared to a photograph? What is it about having a thing or indeed a place which acts as a vehicle of remembrance that is so important to those who have lost someone they love? What is it about immense tragedy and loss that causes people to reach out for something to hold, look at, or to visit? It is in these performative rituals of maintaining such sites that ‘Perennial’ finds its concern.

The physical object of the memorial is primarily seen as a representation of its subject, an outcry of grief, and an attempt to create a sense of tangibility despite the chaos experienced at times of loss. When considering memorials as objects created to serve a purpose of maintaining memory, the act of photographing these as such serves as another iteration in the continual process of reliving a moment, a time, a connection. To photograph a memorial therefore reduces the subject to its core associations and reconstructs an impression which transcends time, as this process solidifies memory furthermore, through the creation of a secondary physical trace.

Compiling the photographs in a book (which is the form in which this project found its first iteration) serves to bring that sense of permanence to the fore. Something which is unobtainable through the creation of memorials based around such ephemeral floral arrangements, thus creating a collection of perennial memory, allowing the memory of those who have passed to achieve a level of permanence.