quilt with fingerprints , DNA helix and and camera drawing

For those who cannot speak

For the forthcoming TRACES exhibition I set myself a brief of including work relating to the history of my family in St.Helens.  I am not sure my living, breathing, fell-walking parents are going be that happy to be counted as ‘historical’, but I could not resist making this piece for the show.

My Dad was a Scenes of Crime Officer in the Merseyside Police and I remember as a small child being taken to an Open Day at the Police station where children were allowed to sit on a Motorbike and see what the Police did. I was very proud that it was my Dad who was taking all the children’s fingerprints!

Later I was even prouder when he was part of the team that solved the tragic Helen Mc Court murder case which took place in 1988, just a few miles from where we lived. Her trial was one of the first to use the new DNA techniques and a rare example of a murder conviction when no body was ever found. You can read the story here.

It was reading my Dad’s Police promotion handbooks that first put the idea in to my head to be a lawyer and his familiarity with cameras that started me on my own photography. At work he used one of these Twin Lens Reflex cameras, at home, a film Pentax which I now have in my studio. That said, sometimes it’s better to teach myself than rely on his expertise.  Just after I bought my fancy schmanzy Micro Four Thirds camera I asked him to explain a lighting issue to me.  “Well,” he said. “Imagine you want to take a photo of a dead body down a mine shaft…”

So, this is my own interpretation of his legacy to justice and influence on my own art. The title, which fits in the with the other titles in this series of work,  comes from Proverbs 31. “Open your mouth for those who cannot speak, for the cause of those whose hope has passed.” Dad opened his mouth to give evidence in court and then later I would open my mouth as an advocate.  (Although I never practiced in crime, save for one stressful bench warrant application between Christmas and New Year when I was dragged into court by a desperate Judge who had seen me in the street as she arrived at court and who insisted that I help out despite being in jeans and a leather jacket!)

People ask where I get my interest in law and also my artistic talent from. It’s in the DNA!

You may like other quilts in this series:  For the Dead and the Living  and  For the Fallen