Richard Ansett

One for Sorrow © Richard Ansett 200

In common British folkloric tradition, the Magpie is considered a thief and the single bird a harbinger of doom to be given the upmost respect. To salute the Magpie is an acknowledgement of its power and a superstitious antidote to any ill omen. For this project it is a synchronistic metaphor arriving to acknowledge a present trauma.

I explore the foundations of personality architecture through my auto-biographical observation of others. During a period of personal anxiety and grief, the single Magpie appeared to me. The feared single bird associated with curse and disaster became a companion of my grief and an empathic visitor. I documented these magpies as distant friends in the landscape recognising my mind in its trauma, increasingly seeking refuge in the heightened awareness of the allegories of pain.

A taxidermist was commissioned to prepare a magpie for a tableau as final tribute and Gestalt acknowledging the bird for the support offered to me at a time of trauma.

I continue to acknowledge the Magpie’s value as an ’empathic visitor’ by returning polaroids taken of the dead bird to landscapes with the hope that these momento mori and facsimiles of my experience, offer empathy at a moment of suffering to a random stranger. The images here are the visual documentation of one such drop in an entrance to a bridge on an estate outside Amsterdam in 2013.

One For Sorrow is meant as a discussion of the shifting perception of our shared landscape through the documentation of a new landscape infected with the feelings of this observer. It is a broader enquiry into how the photographer records an engagement with that distorted reality forming our unique voice. To function in society requires a rationalisation of reality to survive at peaks of our anxiety. We imbue the world with self-made realities; consciously and sub-consciously filtering threats to this self-created world. To maintain sanity and for our survival we withdraw into a self-selecting relationship to the universe that substantiates rather than challenges our worldview.

The myth of the shared experience is a tenuous, assumed convention that we perceive the universe in the same way. Accepting this premise allows for non-conflict interactions between otherwise entirely disparate personalities. At moments of personal crisis these conventions as structures previously providing safety become fragile and can fall away leaving us exposed and alone in an unrecognisable and alien environment. At this moment we reach out in fear and panic to totems to assist us in navigating this new world for the first time.

See Facuity