Beginnings – shrine

Finding the right book for each photograph is a joy.




I began collecting vintage photographs over a year ago while researching for my Arts Council project Through An Artist’s Eye. Recently I’ve become drawn to vintage books too – with a view to repurposing them.

Finding an image of a book gutted and used to fashion a radio by a prison inmate, inspired me to explore the potential of books as objects – as containers and instruments.

Then a conversation sparked the idea to house my growing collection of orphaned portraits in a series of books. And so my library of orphans began. Finding the right book for each child is a joy.

Adopting an orphan is easy. You can send me a message via the contact form.

The Story of Miss Moppet – OI #10


The Story of Miss Moppet – Orphaned Identities #10

What happens when you become the story? This adorable orphaned photograph migrated to the pages of this classic tale (a personal favourite) –  and then became one.

This late Victorian or early Edwardian baby, found in the Helen and Douglas House charity shop in the Oxford Covered Market, (just a few hundred yards from the Oxford Saturday flea market where I found Miss Moppet), fits in pretty snugly I reckon. The Miss Moppet story was first published in 1906 so the period is probably quite close.

Once more my extensive Wade Whimsey collection (from Sobell House charity shop in Little Clarendon St) yields a suitable companion. Quack!

The Tale of Ginger and Pickles – OI #9


The Tale of Ginger and Pickles – Orphaned Identities #9

Yesterday the Saturday market at Gloucester Green in Oxford beckoned and yielded a set of three Beatrix Potter books, perfect homes for three small charges.

The main challenge for this gentle project is to work sympathetically with a book and make a good fit for the orphan photograph.

Biro markings on both the book and the photograph created a link. I decided to cover the ‘defaced’ section of the page with this charming baby’s head after cutting away the marked background surrounding it.

A child called Anne has enjoyed reading this book with a biro in her hand. A well loved book makes a great home.




What Katy Did at School – OI #8




What Katy Did at School – Orphaned Identities #8

Some pairings are natural, and some books can’t be touched. A little loving restoration of the spine and cover are my only interventions, and my orphan find is tucked neatly inside the front cover.

All the elements in this assemblage have been sourced in Oxford. The book was found in the Oxfam Bookshop on Turl St, and the photograph came from the Helen and Douglas House charity shop in the Covered Market. I’ve added a tiny Wade Whimsey lamb from a large collection bought at the Sobell House charity shop in Little Clarendon St in 2014.

Finalising this piece was the product of a conversation, which has led to an early adoption. The first of the series.

I’m very grateful to Katherine May for inspiring Orphaned Identities on a visit to the Oxford Thursday flea market earlier this Summer. As midwife to the project she gets to be its first adoptee. Perfection.

The Lost Caravan – OI #7

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The Lost Caravan – Orphaned Identities #7

There is a great second hand bookshop on St Michael’s St in Oxford. It’s called Arcadia, and is a haven for book filleting projects as among the carefully conserved book are a collection of the truly knackered. The photograph is my most recent acquisition from Helen and Douglas House in the Covered Market.

This repurpose  took two attempts and was finally resolved with additional collage elements from a TOAST catalogue and a 1958 guide to Mexico from a family collection.

Who knows where the caravan is?  And who was Pinfarthing!

Ruthless Rhymes – OI #5



Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes – Orphaned Identities #5

A match made in heaven. Landscape format proved the basis for this pairing but the heavy atmosphere of this school photograph somehow fitted the grim humour of this rather horrible book. Duly filleted (howling anachronisms and damaged pages) it now serves a higher purpose.

Cartoon gags about corporal punishment are now banished, and justice is served for our school of orphans.



Fresh air baby – OI #4


Monster Book for Girls – Orphaned Identities #4

This pairing took an unexpected turn as I gradually came to terms with how poorly degraded the cover truly was. It was an Oxford Thursday flea market find, but despite restoring the spine and applying artist medium gels front and back it would have made a depressing home for my charge.

What I like about the direction this went in is that baby gets to sit out in the sun taking in some lovely fresh air. The photograph is redolent of 1950s baby care practices of leaving baby out in the garden to improve sleep.