With the collection In Sickness and in Health, a twenty-nine year project comes to an end for photographer Colin Gray. This is the final installment of a portrayal of Gray’s own parents, part of a piece of work that began in the eighties. The images are often choreographed and humorous. Gray tracks the deterioration of his mother, Rene, in an attempt to find personal relief by immortalizing her agonising death. Bedridden following a stroke, the final chapter of the series The Parents depict Rene’s final days, no longer a caring wife and mother, but a ward of her caregiver husband, Ron. Assembled like a play, with blank pages indicating the succeeding phases of Rene’s illness, Gray’s images move back and forth between clinical registrations and impressionistic emblems with unseen colours and shapes. The voyeurism reflected in several scenes is strengthened by sub-temperature lighting, and brought back into balance by the subtle but unmistakable story of a life that is full of stories, and that shimmer through the images. In Sickness and in Health demonstrates Gray’s strong sensitivity to composition that is as just as often architectural as organic, while always making perfect sense. This concluding chapter puts the ugliness of the dependent and the concept of decay against the unconditional nurturing in the face of which the external disappears.
Colin Gray: In Sickness and In Health
Published by Steidl
Available from Amazon here