Book Review: Scaffold to the Moon by Huw Alden Davies
Scaffold to the Moon by photographer Huw Alden Davies is the culmination of his project, Prince, whereby Davies documented his father and his surroundings and ephemera. Davies’ project statement aptly describes his work as, “Attempting to reconnect with his curious childhood adulations, (he) began to record this man and his eccentricities through photographic and illustrative story telling, resulting in a colorful and detailed portrait, touching on the age old tales of boy to man, while exploring the physiological and cultural elements that inform the image that should have once been his role model.”
Davies’ book is direct. It’s honest. It’s confessional.
There is just as much content of and from Prince, as there are photographs. Davies is not afraid to use all these props to tell the story of his father, and this is one of the strengths which makes it so different from most of the books I’ve reviewed this year. Davies leans on stories and quotes and quips from Pearl, his mother, peppered with wit and snide remarks – the kind of humor you go back and re-read to make yourself snicker just one more time.
“I wonder where your father gets this fascination for clocks. They are everywhere, in every room. In some rooms there are three. All I hear is ticking. He gave Jac (his grandson) a clock for his room last night. Oh, that had to go to bed with him then, didn’t it, he loved it.” Pearl
“I took him shopping this week. I told him to get what he wanted and I’ll do the food shop. Five minutes he was back and ready to go. He had everything he wanted. 36 cans of Guinness, £12 worth of pick ‘n mix, and a security guard, who was busy telling him he couldn’t smoke in the store.” Pearl
The photos in the book, paired with text from Davies’ mother lends an observational air to the story told here. Also, there is an almost quasi-punk esthetic I glean from the layout of the book too. You know, the good kind – think The Clash in the early 80s. Complete with masking tape and marker for the title on the cover.
We see photos of Prince and his sheds, his collections of signs, clocks, matchbooks, papers and documents from his work at the mine, and priceless bric-a-brac everywhere. Davies shares his father’s particular ways of living. “When people open the cover of Scaffold to the Moon,” Davies writes, “I want them to lose themselves for a moment; I want them to laugh, think, reminisce; remember, that innocence, hope and optimism they once felt, and I want them to remember that special someone, daft as a brush, who reminds us that sometimes it’s ok to let go. To not care, to be silly, be free, have fun. The world is a big place, a serious one with many big problems.”
It’s a romantic view in hindsight.
The book is extremely touching, and that comes across in the way Davies takes care to observe and record everything with the mindset of a curator, and the heart of a son. The project reminds me of my grandfather and many of his similar idiosyncrasies of collecting items, a desire for solitude, and truly being his own man. It’s the shared aspects of others that show the strengths we long to find within ourselves. That is exactly what Scaffold to the Moon does.
Scaffold to the Moon
by Huw Alden Davies
100 Pages Including Text and Photographs
Edition of 500
Published by iPigeon
Huw Alden Davies is a Lecturer and program director of BA Photography at Carmarthen School of Art. Lured by the single frame and its ability to tell the grandest tales, Davies’ turns his attention to subjects largely ignored. This has seen his photographs selected by renowned Magnum photographer Martin Parr, The Association of Photographers, The National Museum, and the National Assembly of Wales. Supported by the Arts Council of Wales, The British Council and Ffotogallery (the national agency of photography). For more information and to see more work by Davies, visit his website: https://www.huwdaviesphotography.com