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Surface Gallery: Peter Day – Pictures of my Father

Exhibition flyer

Exhibition flyerJust over 20 years ago I cleared my father’s room of his personal effects. It was a long and dusty task, full of detritus – toothpicks, Rennies, combs – and discarded shoes. A colleague here at Creative Nottingham has been experiencing something similar very recently and so perhaps it is fitting that Peter Day’s exhibition Pictures of my Father is currently showing at Surface Gallery.

The exhibition is a series of photographs and sound, poems and prose pieces compiled by Peter following a charity house clearance service has emptied his father’s house following his death. He queries why they have left the carpets. I noticed a stray lampshade in the pictures. What is now left is largely dirt and space.

The prose hints at an uneasy relationship, perhaps just a generational misunderstanding, perhaps more, we never know. But the exhibition as a whole conveys a shattering discovery – that these places we hold dear do not stay. Without their owner they shrink, become less, lose the memories.

Grief and fresh loss inhabit every frame – in the words “The charity reclamation company said THERE IS NOTHING OF VALUE HERE”, in one dreadfully poignant picture of a window frame, dirt scattered across its melamine and a single old used screw lying forlorn on its sill.

text from exhibitionDay examines space, emptiness, and what it means – an absence of filling but what else? – through his words, but mainly through the pictures. It is only when we remove the sofa that we see the wonky skirting board, the dreadful patterned carpet, the scuff marks on the wall. And yet we do also have to move on and leave this.

The large, echoing gallery setting itself is therefore perfect, as the outside will keep bothering us – the builders and diggers resurfacing the road and the nearby market area, the buses passing through on their journeys. There is no rest here.

The exhibition is on for another week – do brave the roadworks and go and have a look, it’s really very moving.

Dr Peter Day – Pictures of my Father runs until Satursday 4 April, at Surface Gallery, 16 Southwell Road, Nottingham open Tuesday-Saturday