Dull Ache is a personal project created for the New Zealand Photobook Fair in Wellington in March 2020, produced in collaboration with Otago poet Jasmine Gallagher. It is self-published through back_space_books.

“As for me, I see both beauty and the dark side of the things … and I see them at the same time … The Japanese have a phrase for this dual perception: mono no aware. It means “beauty tinged with sadness,” for there cannot be any real beauty without the indolic whiff of decay.” Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

These words really resonated with me when I was making Dull Ache, the Japanese phrase eloquently summing up my images. This is a book of interconnecting words and images, the poetry deliberately fragmented. These fragments are brought together to form one long poem meandering through the book, forming a conversation with the photos. The images are quiet, and while made in a period of grief, are not an expression of sadness but a moment for pause.

This form of ecoGothic poetry responds to the hope found in nature, as a source of solace: where death is revealed not as an ending, but as a crucial part of the endless cycle of regeneration.

The dust jacket unfolds to a secret image, a secret garden, a place of contemplation. A postcard with this image is also included to share thoughts, extending the conversation.

Then you eventually learn to
swim in it and find it can carry
you to a place where there is
salty déjà vu and the uncanny.
There are angry bees for a
time, yet this will pass and the
weaving and spinning will be
resumed. You have familiarised
yourself with the bedroom
walls, ruin porn and post-critical
theory. Grown to love the decay

Book design & photography / Fiona Lascelles
Poem /
Jasmine Gallagher
/ back_space_books
Available at https://www.strangegoods.co.nz/collections/photography/products/dullache2
Held in Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Book Collection 2022

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