Some of his work appears humorous even in the series of photos ‘In Sickness and in Health’. It has an essence of storytelling about it, documenting the illness and eventual death of his Mother. What Colin Gray tries to achieve is to show his Mother as a healthy young woman. He does this by having her hold a photo of herself, juxtaposing old and young together. The fact that the viewer is merely seeing the hands of the person holding the photo gives the image an eerie essence. But I feel that, technically, the composition was exactly right; seeing the aged hands of his Mother holding a photo of her younger self.
Though this series of photos depicts a subject some of us deem ‘morbid’, I feel the way in which Gray composes his work, he deals with it in a sensitive manner.
I believe the purpose of Gray’s work was solely for his own contemplation and resolve. But also I believe Gray wanted people to see his Mother not only as a dying old woman, but someone who once was full of life, grace, humour and purpose. This series of images juxtaposed with images from the series; ‘The Parents’ explores this accurately, seeing both parents carefree in almost cinematic compositions moved to more reserved observations in his later work. His work challenges the controversial exploration of death and documents it well.
I like his element of photojournalism, documenting a particular time, almost telling or revealing part of a story in each shot. His use of narrative allows him to produce his work in a series of images as though each image is another chapter in a story, using visual references instead of words.
If you haven't already, I urge you to see this exhibition. The exhibition itself is cleverely designed and the images thought provoking! Enjoy!