In memoriam: Amber Rowlands' perfect ‘hole-and-corner’
Words Sean O’Hagan
Photograph Amber Rowlands
We are devastated to hear of the passing of Amber Rowlands. Pictured here is the first ever ‘My Hole & Corner’ story, which appeared in Issue 01 in 2013, photographed by Amber of her favourite secret place…
Amber understood, supported and contributed to Hole & Corner from the start. It was her photo of her special secret place (Pin Mill in Suffolk) that inspired our regular ‘My Hole & Corner’ feature – appearing in Issue 01 with words by her friend Sean O’Hagan. It was clear from the very beginning that she got what we were trying to achieve and knew how to visualise it.
It was the first of many beautiful stories that she photographed for us over the years – from her portraits of the broderers of St Paul’s Cathedral to the series of conversations she recorded at Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex and her humorous study of plaster caster Peter Hone (with longterm collaborator Michele Rafferty).
We have known and worked with Amber since the start of her career at i-D magazine in the 1990s. She was a beautiful soul, which was evident in her work – quiet, tranquil, composed but never dull.
The words below – about her own ‘hole-and-corner’ – are by Amber’s friend Sean O’Hagan:
Pin Mill, Suffolk. A small, raised wooden house above a river estuary. A retreat. A sanctuary. It looks quiet, peaceful, even idyllic. I knew all this already, though, because I have heard Amber talk about it on more than one occasion. I know what it means to her. I can see why she would want to keep it a secret. Or a half-secret at least, cherished, shared with just a few friends.
The photograph maintains the sense of secrecy, the mystery.
The house is glimpsed through spreading leafy branches.
The wooden walkway promises more than it delivers. It ends at a closed gate before a closed door. You can only imagine the view from the other side: wide, expansive, heart-settling.
The calming closeness of water. You can almost hear the rustle of the leaves, the creaking of the branches. Almost. But mainly silence. Solitude. A deep sense of place.
You can tell just from the photograph that Pin Mill is a place in which to escape the clamour and ever-quickening thrust of the city, the discontents of contemporary life. A place to go to relax and recharge, to daydream and even to be bored.
Dedicated to the memory of our friend Amber Rowlands.