Lens-based artist Caryline Boreham investigates the management of long-term illness. Francesca Emms asked about her process.
Boreham’s on-going project, titled Lakeside Drive, started when her mother gave her a bag full of expired pills, which had been prescribed for her father, to return to the chemist. ‘My dad had Parkinson’s and his life had become very regimented around this medication, which my mother regularly had to organise.’
Most of Boreham’s practice has been photographing unfamiliar spaces, but in 2016, when visiting her parents’ home in Orewa, she took a photograph of her parents’ bedroom. ‘I found this image really intriguing, particularly as I’d never felt any connection or fondness to this house, which wasn’t the one I grew up in. This led me to continue to photograph around their house and garden, observing and recording the changes the house underwent as dad’s illness progressed.’
In 2019, the project extended from documentary-style photographs focused on her parents’ home, into still life, video and sound works. ‘Typically, my work has a very objective viewpoint and documents architecture and landscapes that are interesting to me for purely conceptual reasons. These new works are more subjective as I have a deeply personal connection to the subject and this has given me license to experiment further with staged elements beyond documentary.’
Boreham was a finalist in the 2019 National Contemporary Art Awards. The work that earned her a place is called Ondansetron. It’s an image of one of the pills from the bag her mother gave her.
‘Originally, I was planning to shoot this work in the photography studio at my workplace. However, on the weekend I’d hired the equipment to do this, my workplace was shut down due to unforeseen reasons – so this image was shot using a very make-shift studio on my coffee table at home.’
Ondansetron is one of the few artworks she’s made using a DSLR camera as she usually shoots on medium format film. It is on show at the National Contemporary Art Awards at Waikato Museum until 10 November.
Boreham lives in Auckland where she is a photography lecturer at Manukau Institute of Technology. She is also part of Tangent – a collective of lens-based practitioners.
First published ArtZone #80