The Architecture of Waiting
Project info

The Architecture of Waiting

Like sleep, a good deal of life is spent waiting. Waiting for the kettle to boil, a bus, train or taxi to arrive or a long haul flight to touch down. There’s the anxious wait for the mailmen at exam time or the outcome of a blood test and the excruciating wait for a judicial sentence to be handed down. Writers wait for inspiration, architects wait for affluent clients while artists wait for payment. War brides experience a cruel wait and only children know the excitement of waiting for the tooth fairy. For every complexion in life there is a waiting. After all, life begins with its own wait in the biological processes of gestation and labor.

Sometimes, we wait for death.

For the dying there is an equally varied complexion of possibility but generally speaking it is preferred to be peaceful in the night, more often protracted and palliative, it can be sudden, tragic and traumatic and sometimes mysterious. For those supporting the dying, time and space distort in the presence of impending death. Bedside vigils disrupt the normal patterns of life with sleep coming in shifts and sustenance delivered through vending machines. In the moments away from the vigil a profundity descends on the realm of the normal as light, sound, texture and colours all appear different as the senses adjust through the veil of mortality.

Many of the images in this series were made while my mother’s life slowly ebbed and in the weeks leading up to the event of her death. As such they are lower case revelations of the minor chord kind, quiet moments extracted from the aggregate of suburban life and charged with deeper meaning. Some refer directly to the architectural edifice in which motifs of waiting may be discerned while others were made in the moments away from the vigil wandering the familial streets of my childhood discovering things anew; a Jewish synagogue I never knew existed, biblical references amongst the picket fences. Obsolescence and redundancy are declared in abandoned theaters, grandstands and landlines as old themes are revisited suggesting a passing and moving on of things. A unifying theme might therefore be found in the systems of hope, faith and belief rendered in the material world and suggestive of a more spiritual quest.

It is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Zola Mary Gale (12/7/1933-9/8/2016)

Simon Cuthbert
17 July 2017