Samuel Fordham

Nothing Gold Can Stay


©2024 Samuel Fordham

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Samuel Fordham

On the 28th January 2015, I married Alexandra, known to her friends and family as Sasha.

For some of the millions who travel overseas, their time in another country takes on a wholly different meaning – they fall in love with the person they choose to share their life with.

“[My son] went from a bubbly little boy to very reserved in the first few months of the separation, he was angry at us both but couldn’t under-stand why Dad won’t want to live with him. He would go from angry kicking out to long periods of cry and thought Dad didn’t love him. They are still working at rebuilding their relationship and trust.”

“Our five-year-old is now at a stage she realises that Skype is not a real connection as she wants me to physically hug and kiss her. So, because of her disappointments, she sometimes simply refuses to come near the computer whenever I am on Skype with them. It is almost as if she is punishing me for not being there physically. This has tremendously affected my own outlook in life and constantly left me in despair.”

“...they were drawing pictures and my daughter drew a picture because obviously she is small, only three, the picture is just scribbled, isn’t it?, at that age, but on my daughter’s scribble she only used the black crayon. The nursery staff gave her more crayons and said, ‘why don’t you use these ones, why would you use only a black one?’ And they kept saying ‘why don’t you use other colours’ but she said ‘no, only black, I only got black’…”

“At the moment I am utterly terrified because I feel my wife is on the brink of giving up. My head is pounding, my heart is aching with pain. Just the thought of not being with my family makes my stomach sick. I can never imagine a life without my wife and daughter because they mean the world to me. I don’t know why I am venting to you and you are a total stranger, the truth is I am scared of losing my family.”

“My elder daughter ... started by saying ‘ba, ba, ba’. ‘Ba’ means baba, which is dad in Arabic, because I was with her. My younger daughter just started with ‘le’, which is ‘why’… Now the first word is ‘le’ in her life.”

“We are not a family. Our only child does not have his father and his father never got to see his son being born.”

“They are used to having a very physical relationship with him, they use him as a climbing frame.”

“My husband and I are separating in part because we can’t take the stress anymore.”

Due to some of the most divisive family immigration policies in the world, thousands of British families are forcibly separated by the Home Office. As a result, they must communicate with each other via ‘modern means of communication’, leading to the rise of what are now being referred to as ‘Skype Families’.

C-R92/BY seeks to investigate how one shares a relationship with a family member who has been physically and geographically removed from one’s life and is reduced to a two-dimensional image; what does it mean to take the irrefutably unique and transfer it into the infinitely replicable?

Throughout the making of this work my own wife faced deportation, and a personal reflection of my own experience is weaved together with those of other families, using images, documents, testimonies and more to explore the hardships of detention, and the fight for family life.