The Tears of Things XI, 2020

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  • Edition of 20
  • 29.7 x 42 cm / 11.69 x 16.53 in
  • Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 gsm
  • Signed, numbered & titled on reverse
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The blossom arrives
More beautiful than before
They say this happens as you age
It’s kinda unfathomable in its beauty
I cant get my head round it
I look I touch I smell
Some years I photograph

London 2001
I had just come back
From a little stay on the coast
Now a different man
(for a while anyways)
I remember looking up
At this explosion of pink
Under the streetlights
Glowing like an alien brain
And asking myself how had I not
Noticed this before


Night Flowers

Tokyo 2004
Land of the blossom lovers
For real
At night I walked in a bubble
Of my own otherness
My attention not punctured by recognition
Of language either spoken or written
And these are Blackberry days
No smartphone fire fly pollution
We will not know those days again

One night jet lagged
I taxi to the fish market
And if ever I saw one thing
In my life that said
This cannot go on
This was it
Like every fish in the sea
Had been caught
And was there that morning
And every other morning
I shed a tear into my sushi
But I digress

New York
Early 2008 I think
My heart wasn’t in it
Too much on my mind
I did have a nice moon lit moment
To myself in Central Park
But no real keepers
Just some bad behaviour and
More regrets

Sydney 2010
Reverted to type
Leave a party off my face
To find the flowers
I had noticed
On the journey there
I stand in the road
Tripod camera light meter
The warm breeze and fragrance
And self hatred
And cars swerving

This year
The year of the plague
In this different world
We are now living in
The collective confrontation with mortality
A world of masks
And queues outside Lidl across the road
And the blossom always told us
This was a brief dance
That we all must fall as petals to the floor
But not like this
And the blossom says I told you
That life may be eternal
The expressions of life however
Are not

Polaroid circa 1990s
Hence the blue
Blue blue blue
Dye levels faded with age
Film from a different world.
A full colour spectrum world of promise
Promise and lies and hope and denial
Mamiya RZ67 and polaroid back
A camera system originally
Designed for commercial use
To tell the lies that needed to be told
Lies I’ve helped to tell

The Tears of Things
‘the pathos of things’
‘An empathy towards things’
‘A sensitivity to ephemera’
‘the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of
having been witness to the dazzling circus of
life – knowing that none of it can last’


‘Flowers are, of course, deeply symbolic of renewal. Their beauty is bound up in the knowledge that it is momentary. Beauty pierces your heart because it is painful. It is about loss, transience, and wonder at its very existence.

Gareth McConnell’s photographs of his bed and flowers have to be understood with his other work in mind. The motivation and poignance behind the images in Meditations (2004–08), Night Flowers (2002–10), make little sense if you don’t know McConnell’s shocking and affective images in the series Anti-Social Behaviour Parts I & II (1995) — victims of paramilitary punishment beatings in his homeland of Northern Ireland, or IV drug users who were his friends and sometime community. This is true of beautiful things, isn’t it? Beauty is cloying and saccharine when it’s too easily granted.

McConnell shoots Night Flowers in ambient light and with a long exposure. He takes the pictures during nocturnal walks, another temporal experience out of the workaday. Similar to the beds, the flowers become still, central objects, isolated from their context (they are not hothouse but urban flowers, growing alongside commercial strips and housing estates). In some, a spray is classically composed against a background, blossoms burgeoning; in others the image is blurred, or the light intensely artificial, acidic. They are the dusty, forlorn cultivars grown on the streets of any city, but they are prize winners, too. McConnell asks with these pictures, can you find hope when and where it’s least expected?’

Alison Green
Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives in Photography