One of the most photographic materials I can think of is amber. Like a photograph, this fossilised tree resin stops time and suspends motion, often in the form of insects and other arthropods. The beautiful gemstone is used in jewelry, decorative objects for the house and sometimes as a tool of natural healing. The biggest deposit of amber is in the Baltic region.
If I’m to retrace my interest, it actually starts with a ring I was given by my mother who was Polish. An amber ring, unfortunately with no embalmed fly. This summer I want to find out more about amber, its properties and its uses, starting at the museum and seeing where it leads to.
Ring from my mother
I have a constellation of disparate things to explore, and I want to see if there is a way of bringing them into conversation with each other.
Amber lamp at home, London
Amber lamp at Magda's home, Sopot
Whilst I am in Gdansk, I will also investigate another collection of frozen moments, in the form of a family album. No ordinary album, it traces my mother’s family genealogy in great detail. But it wasn’t put together solely by a family member (though as guardian and narrator of family history, my aunt Magda who I will visit and interview played a role): it was created by a local historian.
Weaving together the family’s history through biographies and small intimate scraps against the backdrop of wider collective geographical history, the way the collection of photographs is laid out and the narrative is created is very interesting to me.
The Museum of Amber, Gdansk
My aunt’s background as a lamp maker
The amber market
The guy who made the album