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.

The Japanese have a phrase for the dual perception of seeing both the beauty and the dark side of things, mono no aware, meaning ‘beauty tinged with sadness’, the notion that real beauty can only exist with the whiff of decay. This expression neatly sums up the approach for Dull Ache.

The book is an interconnecting journey of words and images that meanders through its pages as one journeys through the emotional stages of grief.

The images are quiet and made at times when feeling isolated from the world, they are not intended to express sadness but to find solace. The poetry is fragmented, and when these fragments are brought together they form one long poem that is scattered unevenly between the pages, thus forming a conversation with the photographs.

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 a secret image like the reveal of a private thought. A postcard of this image is also included should the reader be willing to share their own 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
Self-published
/ back_space_books
@bad_poetry_nz
@back_space_books
@fionalascelles

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