Helen Jones

Helen Jones

Here is joy and neglect |The title of this series is from Patti Smith’s book M Train. The line comes as she is describing walking into her New York home – drafts of manuscripts spread over the floor, used turpentine and linseed oil scent the air, half eaten deli sandwiches, cups of coffee, and souvenirs of the past fill the apartment. I was struck by the sense of comfort, nostalgia, and absurdity those words left me with – the same feeling I have when looking back on my photographs of home spaces. Here is joy and neglect. I jotted down the line, stuck it over my desk, and read it almost daily.

I grew up in a small town in the green mountains of Vermont, in an apartment with my mother, and the ghost of my father. There was a room filled with his belongings that changed very little over the two decades after he died until my mother moved. It was a palimpsest, a half-readable history in belongings – old books and notes, surfaces and textures, treasures to be found. This room led to my fascination with the way people interact with personal spaces, the way they arrange objects in their homes, the things that they save, and the unintentional marks they leave behind. My mother struggles with agoraphobia; this has also informed my perception of home spaces. The emotional difference between indoors and the outside environment is central to my perception. 

Wall paper that has been spackled over and over where a favored chair hits; the familiar view out a window that has been blocked out by cardboard replacing cracked glass; piles of plastic cups that are accumulating dust but seem to belong. These are scenes of joy and neglect as well, the kind that build after years of living somewhere, after you have really settled into a place and it is a part of you. www.helenjonesphotography.com

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