I was very much moved by the generosity of spirit that motivated the creation of the Untitled.Showa project. Here we have 340 lost images concealing a forgotten history being unleashed across the world, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, as if orphans looking for parents, searching for a history, an identity and relevance.

During an Untitled.Showa workshop I was acquainted with the term “Kuyo” which is a ceremonial offering for the deceased. “Otakiage” is a type of “Kuyo,” which can involve the ritual burning of the possessions of people’s close relatives and friends. For us, in Australia these items usually end up in the op shop or the tip. For me, these things that were treasured by our loved ones, demand more respect and so the ritual of “Otakiage” struck a chord with me.

All of the participants in the workshop were asked to create a piece that reflects their feelings toward the Untitled Showa project.

Having thought about it carefully, I concluded that the project is about renewal and the resurrection of past lives. In fact it is the exact opposite of “Otakiage” where sad memories that are too sad to linger are cleansed and a view to a positive future is embraced.

I decided that I would burn a picture of my mother, Setsuko Nakamoto, who has long since passed away. By running the film backwards amidst the flames, her memory comes to life from the ashes giving a surreal and a ghostly effect. The subtle sound of birds calling amid the sound of the crackling flames reminds us of time’s relentless march forward.






Jim McFarlane ジム・マクファーレン

I was born to a Japanese mother who was one of the first Japanese war brides to settle in Melbourne post WW2. My elder sister Coral was born in Hiroshima and I was born in Melbourne. After working as a technical illustrator at the General Motors Tech Centre, I returned to school to study photography. A successful commercial career emerged and I became proficient in the arts, food and documentary photography. My works have been exhibited in more than 10 countries and I maintain a strong connection with Japan where I visit regularly to visit relatives and friends.

Jim’s Website: http://www.jimmcfarlanephotographer.com/

Story about Jim’s Mother and Family: https://www.nikkeiaustralia.com/nikkei-australian-family-history-by-jim-mcfarlane/




-Posted by Jim McFarlane November 2021


Share this