Friday, October 03, 2014

'Colin Gray: a journey with his parents through love, life and death'

3 October 2014

While I was in Edinburgh this week I visited North Edinburgh Arts Centre to see an exhibition of photographs by Colin Gray, presented as part of Luminate 2014 – Scotland's Creative Ageing Festival (of which I am a Trustee). 'Colin Gray: a journey with his parents through love, life and death' is a selection of works documenting Gray's 34 year collaborative journey with his parents. It includes work from 'The Parents' series, which started in 1980; from 'In Sickness and in Health', photographs that explored his parents' older age and his mother's death; and a preview of new work from 'Do Us Part', his ongoing series of images of his father and daughter. Many of the photos are playful and funny – showing Gray's ageing parents retaining a childlike sense of fun. I particularly enjoyed the picture of them sailing down an imaginary stream in their garden in an old bathtub. In contrast, the pictures of Colin Gray's mother's final days are incredibly sad – including candid shots of her in a hospital bed and her corpse in the coffin. And the scenes of her husband grieving alone are painful and moving, including a close-up of his wrinkled neck enclosed by collar and black tie. But the exhibition ends with pictures of Gray's father with his granddaughter comforting him, providing a warm final image that shows continuity of life into the next generation.

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