Leave to Remain is an ongoing series narrating a journey littered by mistakes, wrong turns and dead ends. Each individual scene is comprised of snapshots, usually captured hastily and with the technology on hand – a phone camera. These seemingly disparate objects, locations and elements are woven together to illustrate moments of frustration and isolation. Each constructed moment queries the notions of what success is, what failure entails, and explores the fleeting societal construct of ‘national identity’.

However, it’s not all darkness and gloom. Although the protagonist in this journey has grown all too accustomed to a life lost along this meandering path, he is able to adapt his unfamiliar surroundings to provide immediate comfort and convenience – albeit using the same thought processes that likely led to him getting lost in the first place.

Long-term survival is not a consideration.

Leave to Remain is a series of work that explores being lost, but it also serves as a poorly-informed guide to making the most of a bad situation.

Leave to Remain, Episode I

 

The series of images focus on the questionable decision-making that can send you down the wrong path. These are portraits of disorientation, the backstories of which take their inspiration from ancient cautionary fables. Some of the images follow the storylines of these ancient texts, whilst others are based on newly-created tales. In all of the images, a metaphysical plane exists. These can take a more obvious form, or be implied. Spiritual gateways exist in many world religions. The Shinto Toriis, for example, mark a divide between ‘the mundane and the sacred’.

In these scenes, there is a similar line of demarcation – but it serves to mark a divide between success and failure; the right path or the wrong one. The protagonist occasionally questions his decisions, but there is an overall acceptance of the situation in which he has landed himself.

These episodes were all created during the Covid 19 pandemic, and the elements and characters used reflect this. This series was produced during the strictest of lockdown conditions, where human-to-human interaction was forbidden.

Genius, Virtue & Reputation

The Serpent & His Tail

The Shepherd & the Sea

Laika & Jupiter

The Traveller & Fortune

The Astrologer

Leave to Remain, Episode II

 

As lockdown restrictions eased, holiday-makers in their caravans flooded my local area. I began to think about what elements these sorts of journeys entailed, and the sort of anxiety that might arise as you packed your belongings into a large metal tube and departed for far-flung destinations. A connection was made between this sort of earthly voyage and space travel.

Both types of journey are, in some way, circular in nature. To return to your point of origin is success. Any other outcome is deemed a failure. The vessels used in both types of trip also share aspirational names: Discovery, Sunseeker, Challenger, Pegasus, Pioneer, Conqueror.

Each image in this series borrows a storyline from a space mission that ended in a crash, a wrong turn resulting in disappearance or, in some cases, an abrupt abandonment. Once lost in the emptiness of space, attempts are made to contact home: a ping from a distant world looking for some sort of guidance. In absence of any sort of helpful reply, questionable decisions are made that recklessly deplete what few supplies and resources are available. Personal entertainment and an acceptable level of personal comfort take precedence over any strategy for long-term survival.

The Circadian Clock

NEAR Shoemaker at Eros

Réseau Plates and Fiducial Markers

Mars Polar Lander at Planum Australe

Philae at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko