Burnt Finger, Broken Nose is a visual chronicle illustrating the battles and tribulations of my own personal experience with acute mental and physical illness. Shot during a period of my life defined by isolation, uncertainty and anxiety, taking photographs became the loudest expression of everything I was battling against. The narrative of the work ebbs and flows through various imagery, all working to recall a similar, disquieting atmosphere that underpins the story. The images in the series adopt an ambiguous and evocative sequence over one that is explicit and concrete, located at the threshold between representation and abstraction. This allows the viewer to project their own individual experiences and anxieties into the work, whilst still retaining the essence of my own person journey.
Oscillating between still lives, landscapes and consistently returning to a pallid figure, the series attempts to suggest aesthetic and thematic correlations that thread the images together. It’s with this cryptic energy that unspoken tensions begin to manifest between notions of comfort and discomfort, interior and exterior, and the psychological spaces of the melancholic and sublime.
Burnt Finger, Broken Nose was shot entirely on my first 35mm camera, a Nikon EM, printed and subsequently torn and scratched. The process of mark making and effecting the materiality of the final photographs was an attempt to further enrich the work with visual tension and suggest a relationship between literal and psychological scarring. Although harrowing and forbidding, the core of this story is one of acceptance and recovery. Taking photographs through illness became an intrinsically therapeutic practice that gave me a voice and allowed me to communicate, reach out and accept support. Creating this series not only functioned as an expressive outlet for my pain but also served as a poignant tool for psychological self-growth and healing.
Rory’s submission is a carefully considered and powerful portrayal of mental and physical illness. Utilising a uniformed aesthetic while instilling a highly personal approach, Rory’s Story reveals an atmosphere which continues to divulge the more time you spend with it and speaks of a larger issue which is seldom discussed. The APA committee congratulates Rory on producing and sharing such an incredibly personal and important body of work.