Tea and sympathy

By: usermattw

Mar 12 2014

Tags: , ,

Category: Pairs, Women


Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Real photo post card measuring approx. 5.25 x 3.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is H. Kenyon of Southport.  [I believe this Southport is the coastal town in northwest England.]  Written on the back in pen is this is a friend of mine that was in the Hospital with me.


Sorry to be posting one that is silvering so badly, but I find it fascinating enough to be worth sharing.  This pose is an unusual one, I think unique in my collection, though my collection is hardly comprehensive.  Such a charmingly mundane depiction of a friendship.  Yet it’s interesting that this friendship was deemed worthy of photographic commemoration.  The implication from the note on the back is that the bulk of the relationship centered around the time spent in the hospital.  Did that amount to a great deal of time?  Why is the friend’s name not even mentioned?  Was a truly deep bond formed in the hospital, or did the woman (whichever one she is) have so few other friends?

9 comments on “Tea and sympathy”

  1. It is a very unusual photo! It such a strange and melancholic expression of friendship. It is so odd, it makes me think of the Willard Asylum suitcase project. If you don’t know of it, I think you’d find it interesting. There are often photos in the cases. Here is the link – http://www.willardsuitcases.com SO fabulous to see more and more of your collection, Matt!

    • PS I think the word “hospital” and the oddness of the image made the asylum connection for me. Just another type of hospital after all…

    • Hi Katherine! Yes, I’ve seen that suitcase project before. I find it very moving. And thanks for continuing to enjoy the photos. I think that, in addition to having technical difficulties with the old scanner and the new printer, I was just getting a little bored with sorting through the same photos over and over. Finding the lost box was like getting a whole bunch of new photos, and it really helped revive my enthusiasm for the blog again, at least for now.

      • Katherine, an update. I went to a local science museum this weekend (The Exploratorium), and by coincidence they had an exhibit of suitcases from that Willard Suitcase project! Probably about 10-15, their contents displayed, and brief biographies of their owners. It was an exhibit about the changing face of psychiatry, and included the diagnoses and treatments of each patient, along with that would likely have been their diagnoses and treatments today. Fascinating stuff.

      • I am very envious of your luck at finding the exhibition Matt. I would have loved to see it too. Looking again at this post, I wanted to say once more that I think it is a really unique, gem of a photo!

      • Thanks, Katherine, glad you like it.

  2. Also interesting as it is a posed photograph at a studio. Not just a snapshot of two friends at a café.

    • Yes, exactly, the entire scene was constructed for the photo. I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not the tea cups match. It kind of looks like they don’t, suggesting that this sort of scene isn’t one frequently requested at that studio.

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