Paddy Summerfield – Empty Days
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“I would say Empty Days is my road trip, through the places I know – on foot.”
In run-down streets and shabby cafés Paddy Summerfield found his pictures for Empty Days. Among the tragic lives he encountered, lives that touched him because they reflected his own struggles, he made images that would tell their stories, his own story.
“This is the world I know, it could be anywhere, a place we have all seen before. I am sad, the world is sad. I don't know if I take photographs to embrace sadness or or push it away.”
For Empty Days Summerfield has found emblems of the great themes: religion, sex, and death. Yet among the bleakness of various addictions, the ravages of drinking, of pills, he shows no spiritual comfort, no sexual joy, only the search for love in an unloving world, an unsatisfied spiritual longing. Along pavements and pathways, in claustrophobic rooms or open spaces, he finds the isolated figures, lost in thought or caught in a flash of emotion, to express the yearnings and pain that so many of us share. And where no people are shown, the human traces – an abandoned bicycle, a fallen doll, a tangle of nettles and barbed wire – continue themes of loss and melancholy. Yet however powerless or worn down the people and places shown, these pictures offer compassion, not judgement. A handful of troubling portraits, suggesting powerful and complex emotions, punctuate Empty Days, and intensify our sense of a narrative, albeit elusive and incomplete, as the photographs lead us through a fragile and fragmented world to an ending that suggests the possibility of hope.