After my father’s death, I discovered a box of letters written to my mother 1 year after they were married. He had written them during a trip to his birthplace, Velbert, Germany, from which he emigrated to Canada. He was returning to visit his family for what he suspected would be his last visit with his aging mother. It was his first trip away from my mother. The box contained both postcards and letters – a dichotomy of the public and the private; the public places and common language of postcards we use to mark our travels, and the private sentiments we impart to loved ones in letters from places far away. I have used photographs taken during the trip to reflect specific places he visited while in Germany, and have used both intimate and everyday phrases from the letters to weave into these images. The intention is to reflect the unseen presence these places now held for him, that of my mother waiting back home – a juxtaposition of public and private, memory, absence and place.
This is a hand bound, 5-panel, double-sided French fold accordion gicleé on Hahnemuhle paper, in a hand bound gicleé envelope on Hahnemuhle paper. Archival quality, open edition. The envelope is an enlarged reproduction of the original envelope in which I found the letters, and has been hand edged to mimic the torn edges of the original. The cover has also been hand edged to mimic the original 1960s postcard. The act of choosing intimate lines from the letters and then subtly camouflaging these among the images underlines the concept of the piece – a layering of personal meaning onto otherwise regular or even familiar places. And in creating this piece, I have myself created a love letter to my parents.
Maureen Piggins is a Toronto artist, writer and graphic designer. She has written about the importance of content in artist books. Her poems, books and articles have appeared in gallery and trade publications. She holds a BFA from OCADU.