Sandy Carson: Passing Place
Photographer Sandy Carson considers the legacy of memory, loss, and home in his new monograph, Passing Place, published by Yoffy Press.The physical book itself feels timeless, like a novel from the 1940’s with gilded edges and and an embossed ship in gold inviting us on a journey. Indeed, it is a journey, but instead of packing a suitcase, the book unpacks his memories and creates his own personal photo album as a way of not forgetting.
Having left Scotland for the United States at the age of 20, he left behind his mother, a single-parent. On his trips home, he began photographing the village near Glasgow that shaped his growing up, as a way to remember his roots and a life that was slipping away as he formed a new one in the U.S., but he also spent time with the family archives on his visits. “My mother had a collection of family photos, dictaphone tapes and artifacts she keeps in a big biscuit tin that date back to the 40’s onwards, all shot by different family members, passed on from my grandfather, who was an artist. Those snapshots and sound-bites had quite an influence on me growing up and I enjoyed revisiting the nostalgia each time I went home.”
As his mother began to decline, there was more of an urgency to reconnect and remember. Considering her mortality and realizing time was limited, “It made me think about the shortness of life and helped me understand more about time, distance, my own mortality and the family bonds that exist despite geography,” he says.
Passing Place is a beautifully crafted book which includes his own photography, family photos and vintage ephemera that coalesce into a an elevated scrapbook of two lives, one that has and one that continues.
Sandy Carson is a self-taught documentary and commercial art photographer, film maker, musician and cyclist who grew up in Scotland, now based in Austin, Texas. He studied communications at University before dropping out to tour the UK and Europe playing in punk bands and making fanzines. After moving to the States in the ’90s to pursue cycling, he travelled the world for 20 years as a professional BMX rider, where he honed his skills a photographer. His work is an intersection of two careers that have been the recipient of numerous awards. His work is published and exhibited nationally and internationally. Sandy’s long-term photography projects and documentary works are represented by INSTITUTE. His first book with Yoffy Press, I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart, was released September 2019.
Passing Place is an intimate portrait of both my mother and the ex- mining village I grew up in the West of Scotland after emigrating to America at a young age. This series deals with separation, space and the invisible family bonds that exist despite physical distance incurred by geographical displacement.
The name is inspired by one-lane rural roads with wide spots that are common in Scotland, allowing vehicles to pass each other and continue on their journey.
These photographs and memories made on annual visits home since the mid 90’s, are a testimony to my upbringing and a gentle reminder that absence creates longing and nostalgia across the miles. I wanted to make a record of everyday domestic rituals and routines during the rare times we spent together, to distill time with the portending passing of my mother in 2016.
By uniting my photographs with the ephemera and family photos left behind by mum, I am striving to fill the void by retracing our lives, embracing my formative years we spent together and absorbing the ones we lost.
Yoffy Press is an independent publisher dedicated to pushing the boundaries of photobook publishing. Working in true partnership with artists, we look beyond the book as a container of images, integrating physical and conceptual design to create distinct art objects.
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