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  • Matthew Shenton

One after another

In 2019 I picked up a Noris slide projector that had caught my eye in an Ipswich charity shop. It was a thing of beauty - all swooping lines and chrome and luckily it worked. Well, the bulb worked, but I hadn’t twigged that the actual slide mechanism was missing. I couldn’t find a replacement online, so mangled one from a different make and model to fit. Now I needed some slides.

We were never a slide family. We instead opted for an old suitcase filled with packets of printed photos. School fancy dress. First and last day milestones. Minehead 89. Lake District 94.

I had a look on eBay and was amazed to find you could buy large bundles of old slides costing only a few pence each. The bundles are described as ‘random landscapes, some with people, no guarantees’ and often, quite grotesquely, as ‘boring’.

One hundred slides arrived. I held them to the light trying to peek at what the images might be. Was that a beach, a camel, a ship maybe? I couldn’t really tell.

When I finally projected the first twenty slides I discovered that they were anything but boring. And I wasn’t really prepared for what would happen to me upon viewing them.

Two thirds of the slides were clearly sets of family images, but they were all jumbled up. Going through them I found that one little boy featured in around twenty images, appearing in various domestic scenes with older people and also whilst on holiday. And an adult woman featured on another twenty.

I soon began to feel uncomfortable. These were memories that had meant something and were now lost to their owners. It was also quite likely that these people had now passed away. What right did I have to possess them now? What should I now do with them? Was it enough to just save them from landfill?

I worked out how to photograph the slides, created an instagram account and uploaded around half of them. I convinced myself that by doing this the images would be preserved, presented and, in some way, not forgotten.

The physical slides were then stored on top of the wardrobe until I could decide what to do with them. I still felt a responsibility towards them, but it wasn’t until recording Stryance that an idea would be born.


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