Another week has passed, a busy one, with many explorations of abandoned buildings and black and white printing of the results. I’ve been loaned a Hasselblad, so appropriate, a Swedish camera for a Swedish project. The square format is a pleasure to work with and the camera might even be as old as me, having been made in the sixties.
In the forest to the northeast, just beyond the lake, there is a small farmstead. No one lives there and vegetation is creeping toward the house, covering the grounds. As well as the house there is a barn, inside, along with piles of timber, are three 1960s cars, with another one outside, covered in pine needles from the tree it sits under. The house looks like it was left yesterday, a newspaper sits on the kitchen table and a teddy was dropped on the upstairs landing.
I feel uneasy inside, quickly recording the rooms, but concentrating more in my heart on the exterior. I don’t touch or move anything inside, leaving it exactly how I found it. Documenting the interior is necessary, the local commune here is keen for me to do this before decay sets in. I shoot digital images but know the black and white is what I’ll use here.
The house is tiny, three rooms, one downstairs and two up. Built from wood painted a rusty red, as are most of the houses here. The paint is a by-product of copper mining high in Iron content. The barn, by contrast, is large, three large rooms covering three times the floor space of the house.
Behind the house in a small square building cut into the earth. It used to have a roof, as the piles of tiles testify, but it is open to the elements now. This was the larder, or earth store (the literal translation for the Swedish name). I retrieved two empty jam jars from here, my first artefacts.
The photographic paper I’m using at the moment is old stock, not as old as the camera, but old enough not to have any blacks. I’ve tried hand colouring, thinking about how I combine photos with drawing on the permatrace. The obvious reference is to the late 19th and early 20th-century popularity of hand coloured black and white. Not sure how I feel about this, but in certain lights the pencil work is more evident than others
This is close to what I was thinking for the permatrace. Something like erasing the image by obscuring it…
Next week I’ll do a test, along with more printing and site visits. I have identified five sites so far. Enough for the project, not all of them are accessible, in some cases the outhouses are but the house is locked up. Three are open. The one in the forest is best preserved, still largely intact and untouched. One in Boda is in a poor state, with a leaking roof and evidence of rats. To the northwest, another house is near derelict. The barn burnt down last April, only the foundations and charred remnants remain. Tomorrow I’ll be going there.