A mother is like no other. We all spend our formative pre-birth nine months, give or take, physically inside our mothers and are linked by an actual cord. The proverbial umbilical cord has become a metaphor for a strong connection, yet one that sooner or later must be severed.
Only a mother understands what it’s like to have a child grow and develop inside you, not to disparage or diminish fathers, of course, but this is a unique bond, sometimes for life. Children feel very differently in some instances and for them, it’s hard to understand why their parents act in certain ways. There’s a saying that a child can never understand their parents until the child becomes a parent in their own right, but is this too simplistic? Perhaps growing up allows us to see the mother as an individual in her own right rather than someone defined by our relationship. Mother and child are two separate people in their own rights - people who might have different hobbies, interests, activities, or lives altogether; there is no guarantee that the mother will feel the inextricable bond to the child and vice versa. Often children find that once they are adults and have less and less time for their parents; when the responsibilities and peculiarities of adulthood kick in, they drift apart.
Cheryl Newman introduces us to her mother, Carol, who was born on Christmas Day in 1926. As a fellow Christmas baby, I can guarantee you that she’d heard “oh my, this must be tough, do you get only one present” more than once, but that’s not the point here. Newman, who recently completed an MA in Photography Arts at the University of Westminster, attempts to bridge a thin but profoundly felt gap between her and her mother.
The photographer’s project One Hundred Yards from Home, referring to the distance her mother can walk after her hip replacement surgery, is about unequivocal love that stands the test of time, yet at the same time acknowledging the inevitable distance between children and their parents. The images and the act of photographing Carol over a long period of time are the photographer’s attempt not only to understand her own idiosyncrasies but also the history that binds them together.
It’s a heartfelt, touching project and the love and affection Newman harbors for her mother are made even more palpable by her decision not to return to Lover, the village she grew up in and Carol’s home, after Carol’s death. The end of a proverbial chapter of a family who has resided in Lover for generations and turning over a fresh new leaf.
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