Nerine Martini

Holding the key

During 2017 I conducted a series of workshops with migrant women at the Blacktown Arts Centre, Western Sydney. The participants were invited to share stories relating to keys. Keys are objects that are invested with meaning and memories, for this project they were deployed as catalysts to begin conversations about people’s lives: past and present, their memories and dreams. The women’s hands were photographed and their beautiful and moving stories were recorded. This process of sharing stories unlocked doors of a different kind. There is a story about a key that unlocks a box containing personal letters written to a deceased loved one. Another story tells of a custom in Africa of giving keys to newborn babies as a symbol of life. The projected photographs slowly change; they show the women holding cast ceramic keys that were made during the creative workshops. This material shift has transformed the keys, they no longer have a functional use, they are like ghost keys.

Photographer: Paula Broom

Editor: Craig O’Neill

Thanks to Blacktown Arts Centre, MTC and to the following participants: Plernpit, Olivia, Vina, Mina and Fawzia.