I came across Claude Savona’s work on the FeatureShoot website while scrolling through the documentary category while doing some research in preparation for the Narrative and Illustration assignment. Savona’s work is listed under the documentary category and I found the title of the article rather poignant: “A Look at London’s Elderly Population Through Images of Their Kitchen Sinks”. I was immediately intrigued by this title and without reading the article or looking past the first photo, quickly scrolled down to see who the artist was, googled his website and went there to view the whole series.
Savona has made a series of photographs of kitchen sinks in various homes. On his website the series is only entitled “The Kitchen Sink Series” and there are no captions or clues – unlike the telling heading in the FeatureShoot article. The images are framed tightly around the sink and its immediate surroundings. What do we see from our kitchen sink? In most cases there is a window placed over the sink to look out of while one is doing the dishes, and memories of childhood come flooding back to me. Images spring to mind of my mother standing at the kitchen sink watching me while I played in the garden. One has to wonder what stories the kitchen sink could tell if that was possible.
Knick-knacks and potted plants stand in the window sills or on the side of most of the sinks indicative of memories of past places visited or gifts given. All objects with sentimental value or received in love. We all tend to put something that we hold dear to us close to this living space. I have objects that my children, both adults now, made when they were at school – their artwork, which I find endearing. Even the most run down, dilapidated kitchen in the series has a little mirror on the wall, reflecting the yellow shrubbery from outside the window.
Some of the newer kitchens don’t have a window over the sink – just bare tiled walls. No little pleasures will ever be viewed from in front of these sinks. They have one purpose only and that is to do the dishes without distraction. They are sterile in appearance and this is indicative to me of a singular, lonely existence. Perhaps these are the kitchens of the elderly who have been downsized out of their homes and put into assisted living quarters. Or it is society’s way of breaking down our creativity.
Kitchens have for centuries been regarded as the heart of the home and this is evident from the signs of life in the various kitchens. A forgotten lipstick and compact next to the sink, dishwashing powder in the window sill, clocks and smiley mugs, dishes in the sink, kitchen utensils, milk jugs, fresh garlic hanging next to a window are just a few of the items that reflect on their owners. Some of the owners value their privacy and hang lace curtains over the windows. Others are concerned for the safety and have security bars in front of the windows. Another group embraces the world outside and leaves their windows unadorned so that they can see outside without any hindrances, thus incorporating the outdoors as part of their daily living space.
On the FeatureShoot article Savona makes this statement: “The kitchen window,” he says, “represents a perfect space for daydreaming, as one stood in his mundane space whilst looking out into a more beautiful world which he could aspire to.” This is so true and I can relate so well to this. How many times have I stood at a kitchen sink, doing the mundane task of washing pots and pans and daydreaming of warm skies and far away places – too numerous to even think about.
This series is quite poignant for me and I really like Savona’s work. If I were to ignore the FeatureShoot article title, this series could very well be a metaphor of life. The new kitchen, the first image in the series, with the finishes not quite done is representative of one’s start in life (let’s limit it to adult life). Gradually the kitchens acquire things, knick-knacks and clutter representing our middle age years. The older we get the more memories we acquire and finally the image of the dilapidated kitchen represents our final years, the state of the kitchen reflecting the state of our old bodies, worn and used up.
Claude Savona [online]. Available from http://claudesavona.com/ [Accessed 11 March, 2015]
Kieran, Kat (2015). A Look at London’s Elderly Population Through Images of Their Kitchen Sinks [online]. Available from http://www.featureshoot.com/2015/01/a-look-at-londons-elderly-population-through-images-of-their-kitchen-sinks/ [Accessed 11 March, 2015]