‘The burning of my throat, here it comes again, my hot heavy tears fell onto the street’ – Pippa Healy
This is a book you may not want to pick up.
On Saturday 3rd June 2017, I was walking across London Bridge at the moment when terrorists killed a number of pedestrians in a van. My immediate, involuntary and emotional reaction at that time was to vomit.
The minutes before the emergency services came were silent – there weren’t many of us on the bridge. Confusion, panic, dread. I posted on Facebook ‘I’m on London Bridge – many people are hurt’.
Amongst the messages from friends there also came requests from news agencies – could they have my pictures of the scene?
The problem was – I didn’t have any.
Not only was I in shock – I also hadn’t used my camera phone. I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of people hurt and on the ground.
The next day I started to question everything. Why hadn’t I taken any pictures? How could I call myself a photographer? I spoke to photojournalist friends and they reassured me that it wasn’t my job; I shouldn’t feel bad.
Two days later I went back with my camera to take images. I cradled my camera – it was my therapy. The first thing I saw on the bridge? A large pile of vomit…
This was the start of my Zine entitled ‘Sick’.
This project was made over six months; it was made with my camera but also with my phone. I made notes. I cried on the street. I felt nausea when I heard a van behind me.
I wanted to make a zine rather than a photobook. The paper, the colours, the texture were very important. The cover is printed on metallic paper making the image of sick ‘precious’. There are bright flashes of colour throughout the book – the type of colours that flash before you as you are about to be sick.
The sight of sick on an urban pavement is something we naturally avoid. We step over or around it. I am fascinated by how it got there – the total loss of control in a public place.
Grief can sometimes be very violent. Grief and loss can make you sick.
Pippa Healy is a photo-artist living in London. Her practice centres on themes of loss, longing and grief. In 2016 she graduated with distinction the MA Photographic Studies course at Westminster University. Her work has been exhibited in the UK and abroad.
This zine was developed on the Photofusion Winter Book Lab with Lewis Bush. It was selected for The Photobook Show in Cork.
Sick, edition of 50, by Pippa Healy is available to buy from The Photographers’ Galley bookshop.