The Japanese phrase mono no aware (‘beauty tinged with sadness’ – the idea that there can be no real beauty without the heady scent of decay) underscores the emotion of the images.

While initiating the work through photography, I collaborated with Otago poet Jasmine Gallagher to create the finished book.

Her poetry is deliberately fragmented; the fragments are brought together to form a long poem meandering through the book forming a conversation, interconnecting words and images. The 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 result is a quiet book that offers moments for pause. For visual texture, the dust jacket unfolds, revealing a secret image of an overgrown greenhouse. Now demolished, this location has long been a favourite site for my photographic explorations.

Dull Ache was first exhibited at the New Zealand Photobook Fair in Wellington, 2020.

Book design & photography / Fiona Lascelles
Poem / Jasmine Gallagher
Publisher / back_space_books
Edition of 80 (Sold Out)
In the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Book