Photographer son captures parents’ bond in final years

Photographer son captures parents’ bond in final years

Paddy Summerfield in his Banbury Road studio

One of Paddy Summerfield’s pictures of parents Ken and Joan

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

IT IS a 60-year tale of love that ended in tragedy.

But ultimately Paddy Summerfield’s exhibition, Mother and Father, shows a bond that even Alzheimer’s disease could not break.

The Summertown photographer’s pictures, the product of 10 years’ work, depict his mother, Joan, as his father Ken cared for her in her final years.

She died in 2000 at 85, and his father died aged 95 in 2007.

The pictures will be on show next month in their Banbury Road home, where many of them were taken, for Photography Oxford.

The event is the city’s first international photography festival and The Oxford Times, the Oxford Mail’s sister paper, is the official media partner.

Photographer Mr Summerfield, 67, said: “I wanted to show my parents’ love for one another and my father’s compassion for my mother.

“It was a 60-year marriage and even Alzheimer’s could not break their bond. My father was determined to keep her with him at home, so my photographic essay is trying to show their closeness.

“I would often keep my distance and respect their relationship, forever at the window, photographing them in the garden.

“There was a sense of trying to capture something and hold on to it, even though it was slipping away. I was always worried it would be the last time I’d ever see them as they were.”

The exhibition will display a slideshow of pictures of Mr Summerfield’s parents, as they share moments in the garden.

Mr Summerfield, a grandfather-of-three, said that the project was unusual, because many of his past essays had been about his own emotions.

He said: “Photography is therapy in a way, because it helps me deal with my inner world.

“Another of my collections is called Empty Days, which is quite dark.

“But the pictures of my parents are more mature – and different for me, because they are about the people in frame and not my own feelings.

“At the moment I am going through a lifetime of photography – I started aged 20 – and I have all these negatives stored up.

“I am trying to find ways of presenting them.”

Mother and Father will be on show from September 15 to October 5, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, at 337 Banbury Road, as part of Photography Oxford.

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