Mrs Merryman’s Collection

When Anne Sophie Merryman’s grandmother died in 1980, she inherited a wooden box containing a collection of found postcards. Almost without exception the images were of strange and surreal sights, and they have now been brought together in a new book published by MACK

When Anne Sophie Merryman’s grandmother died in 1980, she inherited a wooden box containing a collection of found postcards. Almost without exception the images were of strange and surreal sights, and they have now been brought together in a new book published by MACK…

Merryman has no recollection of meeting her grandmother, Anne-Marie – who died the same year of Merryman’s birth – but she was told that the small box she’d inherited contained cards collected during the course of her grandmother’s life.

The postcards were not addressed to Anne-Marie, nor were they sent back home from trips abroad that she had taken (apparently she rarely travelled outside of England). Rather, the postcards were collected solely because of the imagery they contained.

The postmark on the card below indicates that it was sent from Lisieux in Calvados, France, but without any sense of scale it’s almost impossible to work out what the subject matter is.

And what’s going on here; why make a postcard out of a picture of someone touching, what looks to be, a pane of clouded glass?

And the surrealism keeps on coming: there’s the disembodied ear; the rabbit’s head in a box (below); photographs of folds of cloth and sheets of paper; the flattened fish; the ventriloquist’s dummy.

With each one the viewer wants to know more, but there is nothing else. Just a snapshot of a moment cut off from what happened before and after, with little hint as to what the story behind the subject matter might be. In that, they’re captivating pictures, and it becomes obvious as to why Anne-Marie once used to pore over the collection in her armchair, and her grandaughter then carried that family tradition on.

Mrs. Merryman’s Collection is published by MACK Books (£35) and is available from mackbooks.co.uk. It is the winner of the First Book Award 2012, an award by the National Media Museum and MACK set up to support the publication of a book by a previously unpublished photographer.

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