In her forties, Eugenie unexpectedly suffered a stroke. She lived, but the incident left her severely visually impaired and stole large parts of her memory. She still isn’t sure of her age. I met her ten years later, during a time when I was experiencing my own darkness due to some personal grief and loss.
I was introduced to Eugenie through the Haringey Phoenix Group, a London-based charity for both blind and partially sighted people. I started visiting her once a week, and I carried on for three and a half years, watching her continuously transition into a different way of life.
My camera allowed me to stare at her and immerse myself in her anxiety, grief, sadness, and relentless frustration as well as her determination, strength, fragility and joy—all without her looking back at me. I invited the reality of human imperfection to seep through my lens; I revealed as much as I could about Eugenie and myself without trying to fill the void between expectation and reality.
Eugenie became a beautiful subject, my friend, and a vessel. She allowed me to produce a series of emotional observations of her and myself without a sense of narrative or linearity. Rather, I spent my time immersed in repetition, drifting in circles, and trying to move on, as I watched her do the same. The work is a truth, whether it is Eugenie’s, mine, or a blur of both.
Editor’s Note: One of Hewitt’s portraits of Eugenie has been selected for the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain exhibition and will be exhibited on JCDecaux billboards across the whole of the UK in major rail stations, shopping centers and bus stops from September 1 - 30. Also three other portraits of Eugenie will be shown at the Division Gallery in Toronto as part of the Magenta Flash Forward selection in October.