Photographer Simon Bray’s latest activity, Loved& Lost, explores knowledge of loss.

Bray expected conference participants to find a photo of themselves with their lost loved one before returning to the location to replicate the image.


Image copyright Simon Bray

I’m regarding a photo of me with their own families on the highest level of Beacon Fell, in Lancashire, which was close to where we lived at that time, about 1978.

It’s one of the only photographs I have of all four of us together, as usually one of my parents would be taking the picture.

Image copyright Simon Bray

My daughter didn’t know what had happened to my brother – and I had to tell her that Uncle Geoff had died – and she said: “Oh Mummy, you’re the only one left who lived in your room when you were little, ” which was just such an amazing road of putting it – she cut right to the truth instantly, like only small children could.

I remember when my mum croaked, I felt winded by the thought that I would never interpret her again – ever – not just that I wouldn’t encounter her again, but for ever and ever. That was really hard.

Life is never the same again.

In this photograph, I am a daughter and a sister – and I’m no longer those situations.

Image copyright Simon Bray

Friends have said to me: “Oh but “you think youre”. You’re still your mum’s daughter. You’re still Geoff’s sister” But actually I’m not really. I am my pa and my mum’s daughter. But no-one thinks of me as a daughter. No-one calls me their sister.

So, your identity changes for ever and I can say I had a brother and I know what it feels like to be a little sister and I know what it feels like to have a father and to be a father’s daughter – but I am no longer those things and that is really hard.

When someone dies, it can be so astonishing and you feel like it ought to be very very noisy, like parties banging drums and playing trombones and call, and actually it’s very quiet because that person’s gone so you don’t hear their singer anymore.

Image copyright Simon Bray

After the funeral, you are left in a very quiet situate – sometimes that can feel incorrect because the notions aren’t very quiet.

I do think that having knowledge such suffering and loss has helped me to have a much more profound acknowledgment of beauty.

It feels like formerly you’ve been to a target of such hurting, you have a deeper understanding of countries around the world around you – and I just, well, I look on life differently.


Image copyright Simon Bray

The original photo( left) was taken at Hillsborough, home ground of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. It was at a Bristol Rovers game in League One, the season that we beat Sheffield United to promotion to the Championship.

From persons below the age of 12, Hillsborough was the thing I did with my father. For the next 20 strange years, come what may, most Saturdays, I would go back and me and Dad would go to the match together and sit in the same tushes, with our season tickets. Those two fannies, 97 and 98, Row R, South Stand, they’re our seats.

Hillsborough is one of these old floors in among the terraced mansions. So, you’d merely find a parking space wherever you can and walk down the hill, over the bridge and into our sets.

Image copyright Simon Bray

Then, we’d chat to the people we’d sat around for the past 15 times or so. Dad had all sorts of routines – he wouldn’t have a shower on match date, he ever wore his Sheffield Wednesday boxer shorts, he’d ever have his hat in his container so if we weren’t doing well it was: “Right, it’s meter for the hat, ” so he’d employ his hat on.

He’d been diagnosed at the end of October and he’d deteriorated that season – but he was there on the last play.

He was very ill though. Sheffield Wednesday had abode up and he simply kind of sat down. He kind of had a little look around and only began to cry and I think he reckoned at that point that could well be his last tournament.

Image copyright Simon Bray

I don’t contemplate the weight of the situation had escaped anybody. He was really upset – and as my best friend envisioned that, they all started crying and then it was just a bit of a gondola crash from then on. It was just a exceedingly harrowing moment.

On returning to the ground for the photograph, we were playing Charlton. We scored firstly and that was the moment that, for the past 20 odd times, we’d jump up and hug and just go crazy and shout and precisely be a bit laughable quite honestly.

But as I hopped up that day, it was great to learn the football and trash, but it was a bit flat. Although, it was nice to think: “Yeah, we’ve scored. Lead on, Dad. There you go.”

It was a good intentional space of reflecting, which is really health. It’s important to take time to think about him – but when do you do that?

Image copyright Simon Bray


Image copyright Simon Bray

They were one of the points that I first “ve fallen in love with”, because I like geeky glasses and on his profile illustration on the Guardian Soulmates, where we first fill, he has these on and I pondered, “I like this guy, he looks like Jarvis Cocker.”

Taken in May 2012, the original photo is of us on the seawall in Penzance [, Cornwall ]. Having assembled online and transmitted for around six months I moved from my home in Germany.

Image copyright Simon Bray

It was just a normal night. He had been at work and I wasn’t is currently working on the time so I was always hanging around for 17:00, waiting for him to get home.

It was still really exciting were informed that we were together and simply that I had moved over here. We precisely became for a tread like we did most evenings.

He was very funny and I think it was the feeling of mood that brought us very close quite quickly because that is actually connects you I fantasize.

After Paul passed away, I returned to Penzance to restage the photograph in the same site and to talk about Paul and the time that we had together.

Image copyright Simon Bray

When you[ the photographer] asked me about taking that drawing with my eyes closed, it was as if the inside of my eyelids was a film, there were all these personas – Penzance together with Paul, expending Mazey Day together, stepping along Sennen beach, taking a tour to Falmouth together – Cornwall is just so connected to the relationship.

I just wonder what’s it like for other people as you’re going through the process of treating everything there is?

There’s a distinct before and after. There’s this cut-off object and you think: “Is this where the world has got to stop? ” But it doesn’t.

This is where everything changed in your world – but the world only stopped on spinning and spinning. That’s one thing that loss does – you really don’t care about others.

Image copyright Simon Bray

It’s a very greedy process – selfish in the self-centred process – you listen a lot more to what you need.

You can get through a whole week and “re going to be fine” – I’m all right most dates – and then one evening, it exactly reaches you.

It’s difficult to know where to go with it.

Where do you go with those apprehensions? Where do you introduce them? Do you let them out? Do you want to fight them? Do you want to try to explain them and rationalise it? Sometimes, you simply feel like giving in to it, and just staying in berth for a week.

Loved& Lost is at Oriel Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, until 18 August.

You can see more of the Loved& Lost project on Simon Bray’s website.

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