"Memories lie slumbering within us for months and years, quietly proliferating, until they are woken by some trifle and in some strange way blind us to life." W.G. Sebald
To research my work Hogsmill Valley (1977) I returned to the place of my childhood at the edge of London, the Sunray Estate in Tolworth. This encounter with my past, after a long hiatus, created a strong feeling of nostalgia; not the sentimental ache of wistful longing, but something more like its root, the conjoining of the Greek nostos (homecoming) and algos (pain).
This pain arose from an onslaught of awakened memories, fragments of a life lived and mostly forgotten, returning spontaneously, uncontrollably. These pieces of me never cohered, jostling with Brownian randomness, demanding attention, never offering comfort.
I responded to this unsettled state by making work. One set of memory fragments, of walks home on Spring nights, past cherry blossom trees transfixed and transformed by the streetlights' yellow sodium glare, held promise. Sadly my trees were chopped down but, nearby, a pristine tree in bloom. I had my picture and, like Sebald, achieve enough distance from my memories to, at last, gain a clearer view.