Sometimes a poem, a piece of prose or merely a statement stays with you and you keep it tucked away safely within your thoughts for many years.
So it happened to me when in 1970, I bought a book of European modern poetry, and was mesmerised by one work in particular.
‘The Boy Changed into a Stag Clamours at the Gate of Secrets’ by Hungarian poet Ferenc Juhasz had just made its debut with an English translation by David Wevill. W.H Auden described it as one of the great poems of our time.
This is a powerful call and response poem full of rich imagery, sometimes tender, often violent and disturbing.
The mother is calling for her son but he is changing into a stag, a reference to Hungarian mythology and the Golden Stag. The son is growing up and leaving his childhood behind. He is entering adulthood and the modern world – The Gate of Secrets.
I started experimenting, taking photographs of an antler. As the work evolved, I felt there was something waiting to appear, similar to the Inuit stone carvers who believe that the spirit is inside the rock waiting to be released.
These images are on the periphery of a larger body of work. They are the bones of the complete structure. I like to think of them as illustrations but they are manipulated photographs with a spirit of their own.