215mm x 300mm
73 images, colour and black and white
Edition of 500, numbered and signed
'Memory's got nothing to do with the old and grey and faraway gone. Memory's the muscle sting of now.' David Chariandy
Encompassing diverse camera methods, experimental processing, a range of media and various fine-art print making techniques, the book Ghosts Are Real is a glorious full-bleed expression of beauty, colour and abstraction.
Ghosts Are Real is a book about memory, time and place and the myriad, often confusing ways in which they relate to each other. It is about the bruised relationship between the world and the self, about the way love can provide a protective shield, present everywhere, agile and invulnerable. Above all, it is a reminder that there is no bolt to slide across the past, thoughts, good and bad, welcome and unwelcome, will always return from the long grass of memory.
The work was created during a difficult period in Philip J Brittan’s life. His mother had just died after struggling with illness for several months and, as so often happens, dealing with the estate fractured his family in rancorous conflict. Philip escaped each evening for long, slow walks through the city and surrounding countryside. The night walks became a sort of haven, a place to recuperate from the troubles of the day. Memory is always associative; we recall not just the place itself but what it conjures in the mind. Walking, a different route each time, and often suddenly prompted by a particular place, Philip regularly experienced the emotional ambush that can arrive in the small hours with the past erupting into the present; welcome ghosts and lyrical memories alive with his time spent in the city, from child to adult—faces, voices, objects, music, walks, animals, stories.
Ghosts Are Real is the series of images created based on those long night walks; images that are as much about feelings experienced—the sense of a vanished world—as the representation of particular places. The daytime traumas, and his mother’s recent death, encouraged a bittersweet appreciation of the fragile wonders of the world, the sheer joy of the here and now, of life's exquisite, magical pleasures. And there is considerable visual beauty in the work—a reflection of the liberating freedom of the night walks and the revitalising time of recovery spent creating the images.
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