Transitional object
Archival pigment print on self-adhesive Hahnemühle and archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, framed, 425 x 225 cm

Working with young children, Donald Winnicott (1951),  introduced the concepts of transitional objects and transitional experience in reference to a particular developmental sequence, an intermediate developmental phase between the psychic and external reality.

In the Transitional object series I explore the intimacy of the healing process from dissociative amnesia disorder - a condition I have experienced from my teenage years to my mid-late 20s: the time when I began to create the images of this series.

Dissociative amnesia is characterised by memory challenges and lapses, which most likely developed to protect an individual from the trauma they experienced. A memory gap may be specific to a past traumatic event or a broader length of time. The gap may be narrowly focused on certain details of an event or time frame, or it may be broad, and the individual loses memory of their own life history and the understanding of what makes up their identity. 

The photographs were created before, during and after my awareness of having this condition. The images can be thought of as a documentation of my state of mind whilst I made my way through. Often made in my own room – like a child playing in theirs, with a sense of security - aided by an accompanying process of therapy sessions, meditation and image building and lucid dreams, the protective wall that was preventing the access of some forgotten memory slowly broke down.

The series takes the form of a tale, narrated via a constellation of events, characters and landscapes: a dried male sea-horse (the male bears a brood pouch in which a female lays eggs, until they hatch) is a the feeling of my own femininity/trans-identity ‘drying up’ in the environment I grew up in; a floating axolotl (which reaches adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis) represents the idea of the queer core I need to protect myself; the hornet nest is female structure and society; the spiral in the hair of a man is the idea of a repetitive cycle.

Kathryn Crabb, a contemporary psychotherapist, confirms the inherent link between trauma-healing and tales: “The importance of the Old Stories unfurls far beyond entertainment or historical interest. Their therapeutic value is less in their overt content than in their symbolic depths: the Old Stories are archetypal. That is, they bring to life invisible blueprints for diverse parts of the human psyche, intangible reflections of the basic impulses that exist within each of us.”


Transitional object was nominated at the Swiss Design Awards 2015 : link

Exbhition at the Swiss Design Awards, Basel, 2015

Earth absorption - memory landscape
16mm film transfer on digital
0:36 in a loop