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An Archive of Memory


This project was originally conceived as a photographic installation in a school gallery, and it's second iteration was as a limited edition artist book.

I was interested in creating a project that was participatory in nature and could foster conversations across generations. Working as much like an archivist as an artist, I sought to make a visual catalogue of objects and ephemera and the memories encased therein; a collection that forms an archive of memory.


The objects and stories represented by the photographs and texts in this series are traces of identity and human experience. Some of the memories depicted are my own but most of them are the memories of many individuals who were generous enough to unearth them, to claim them and to put words to them.

These borrowed objects become austere still lifes that in turn become the point of departure for memory narratives that evoke personal history, collective memory and the privacy of individual experiences.


The contributors to this project range from 16 to 85 years of age. I have archived the kinds of ephemera and everyday objects that, once we are gone from this world, the stories would surely be lost if they had not been shared with anyone. I was not interested in collecting objects with obvious monetary value, pearls, silver and the like, but instead those random shards that act as triggers of memory or traces of personal experience.

Mary Ann McQuillan

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