Photography is an obsession. We become entirely fixated on the strangest things and this extends through all aspects of our lives. Themes that reappear over and over again entirely unconsciously or, symbols that we actively search for. One of mine is umbrellas. There is an elegance to the simplicity of umbrellas. They are functional and have that beauty that all good design has. In use they remind me of a field of flowers blooming or jellyfish floating in the sea. But, more than just being attracted to their graphic quality, umbrellas define space.
They wait in entryways, closets and briefcases. In that space between coming and going. Entirely forgotten until necessary. There is something oddly sinister about them when they are folded. Sharp and pointed, they feel like weapons. They can reflect personal style or in the case of dollar store purchases, immediate need. They provide a place of safety, shelter in the midst of a storm. In literature they can be signs of inclusion into a group or, being under the control of a group. They can be held on to like a cherished heirloom or discarded after they serve their purpose.
For me they are often visual representations of personal space. They physically define that bubble we create around us. That space that, in the city, allows us to live so closely to complete strangers. But, also describes the area in which we are comfortable with others. I will never forget one typhoon in Tokyo when my ex met me at the station with an umbrella to walk me home. It was a complete surprise. There is something deeply intimate about being welcomed into that space. Of sharing an umbrella with someone.