3/13/2005
I just came across my photographer daughter’s website. Last I heard from her a few years ago, she was studying photography at the Parsons School of Design in New York, staying at my apartment. Now I see she graduated with a Batchelor of Fine Arts degree, and I didn’t know about her career taking off. I am so proud of her, and want everybody to know about it.
Through her website, I got to see pictures of my grandchildren, first glimpse for me. Thanks, kid! Keep shooting away!
I’ve emailed her through her website. I hope I hear back.
Here it is, with examples of her pictures:
Annabel Clark
I have come upon this interview you gave to the Sunday Times:
From The Sunday Times
April 10, 2005
Interviews: Caroline Scott
ANNABEL: Splitting up with my dad was the beginning of Mum finding out who she really is. [In 1998, John Clark fathered a child by Annabel’s assistant, Nicolette, who later married Annabel’s brother, Ben.] In an odd way it prepared her for her cancer. It was such a shock, such a massive hurdle, and yet she came through it, so she already knew she was a survivor.
She had several years between the divorce and being diagnosed to learn to live alone and deal with the emotional hardship. I think that’s when we started getting close. She had to discover within herself an independent woman, which she hadn’t been for 32 years. She told me she’d been my age the last time she lived alone. I remember when we moved into our first apartment, she didn’t pay the rent because she thought the landlady would bill her! I was 17 and also taking my first steps into the outside world, so we were setting out together.
I haven’t spoken to my dad for four years. None of us see him any more.
I tried for a while, but he only wanted to talk about what was wrong with Mum and how we could fix that by making her realise what she did wrong. It was a really weird time. At times I thought: “How can this get any worse?” But I don’t look at it negatively any more — it was all part of the journey; it was all part of getting close to my mother.
For various reasons, she told me she had cancer over the phone as I stood on a street corner in Brooklyn. She tried to be so motherly, so matter-of-fact. “They got it early — I’ll have the surgery and it’ll be fine, don’t worry.” Still trying to take care of me. But they hadn’t got it early.
It wasn’t fine and she wasn’t confident at all. And gradually, over the next six months, our roles changed. It wasn’t until she lost her hair that I saw her completely fall apart. It was like this terrible disintegration. I had to be objective and say: “Okay, we’re going to fix this.” I borrowed next-door’s clippers, sat her down and shaved her head.
My goal when I first started taking the photographs was to have an end to the project, which would be to see her well. That was part of the reason we did it. I feel that chapter is closed now. Once in a while I think, “What if it comes back?” or even “What if I get it?” Because the risk for me is immediately higher. But I don’t dwell on it. Maybe it’s naive, but because we’ve done the book, I feel we’ve done with worrying. I worried the most when I went to see my grandmother’s grave and Mum told me she’d bought the plot next to her. That was really hard, because for a couple of days everything fell away and I was convinced she was going to die.
Mum lives in the moment a lot more now. If she wants to do something, she doesn’t put it off. Sometimes that turns into her getting stressed again, because she wants things to happen immediately; she doesn’t like wasting time. But for the most part it’s a positive thing. She’s never been a confident person, but battling cancer seems to have given her confidence. She was certain she didn’t want reconstruction. Her mastectomy scar is her battle scar. It’s like: “This is me — this is who I am now.”
I didn’t see Vanessa that much when I was growing up. I didn’t get the impression there was real closeness, but now they talk all the time. When Vanessa was staying in New York, they’d meet for coffee in the park in the morning. They would never have done that before: it would have been more of a casual “hello”. We’re all aware that we may not have as much time as we thought, and relationships are more important to us. When I think about our relationship, the mother I had as a child seems a different person to me now. She’s less of a mother figure, more of a friend. There isn’t anything hidden any more; nothing she needs to be, nothing she needs to say. There’s just this quiet acceptance of her new self.

MY RESPONSE (because she doesn’t want me to write privately to her, and anyway, I don’t know her address)
What can I say to this? I know what I’d say to Ms. Scott, your interviewer, starting out with her statement that Nicolette was your assistant (it’s time that Murdoch’s London Times hired journalists capable of even minimal honest research for their articles). You’ve always known the truth why do you not enlighten the press, since you’re giving interviews? Do you need to do this? Well, I have this weblog out there to provide transparency, and I hope you dare to read it.
OK, sweetheart, you don’t need to respond to me, I see where you’re coming from. Take care of your Mum, she has a steep learning curve ahead about real life, but be careful you don’t become her keeper, or the two of you will belong in a Tennesee Williams play! You have your own life to lead, and you must be open to a fulfilling marriage and your own family one day. But I took in what you have to say about you and Lynn, and I am moved over what you are going through. Cancer is a horrible thing, and you and your mother have come under its sinister influence. I guess I should be happy that I am outside of its sphere as it effects my old family, yet somehow I feel guilty that I am not there for you both.
Just remember, my door is always open for you, (you should meet my new wife Miyuki who is a good wife to me, very far from being a feminist – maybe take pictures of her in her classic kimono!).
Just remember, if ever you need me, I’ll always be here for you.
5/27/2005
Hi sweetheart.
Today was your Danish granny’s birthday. Also your mother’s first preview of her play in New York. Did you remember both?
I e-mailed you to your website, but still I haven’t heard from you, and now I don’t suppose I will.
I have looked through your portfolio on your website again, with care, and I do admire your work.
I especially loved your portraits and video of lonely old people you traveled to Spain to investigate, and another series of stills about abandoned places in the Mississippi Delta.
I hope you will give a thought to the source of the inspiration for your projects.
Like, the home you grew up in which you abandoned back in Topanga, helping your mother to cause your old Dad to get evicted and become a lonely old person. And is it possible you might be one of the daughters who get to come and “live with and take care of their aging parent”, which you say is one of your current projects?
Fortunately for you, you don’t need to worry about that. This parent saved his life all by himself by getting on the internet and finding just the person to live out his remaining years with. So please don’t feel guilty, just in case you do.
Now I can share my thoughts with the whole world on this blog which you and your sister and brother caused to come about by not communicating with both parents and your silence towards me, and you don’t have to read it, even. Just your friends, I hope.
And don’t forget your young sibling Zachary who seems to have disappeared. Your paths may cross again one day, long after we’re all gone. Give that a thought too.
Meanwhile,
Have a nice day, and I love you.
Dad
July 5, 2005
I don’t hear from you. Fancy, a daughter abandons her father, instead of the other way around. Amazing in today’s world.
I often look into at your lovely website which shows your work as a professional photographer, and which gives me a glimpse of my grandchildren. You are very talented, and makes this Clark very proud, especially as he passed on to you his background in photography. I’m sorry I could not give you one of my Nikons, as you know, all my equipment was stolen.
I hope my readers will take a look in
www.AnnabelClark.net
And I have to say that I get comfort knowing that armed with a camera you are doing your thing and finding yourself, in the Springtime of your life. It’s nice that you helped your mother with her illness and her book. Now take care, and keep looking and finding.
Love, Dad
July 5, 2006
Another year gone by. Still silence. Twenty-five years old, and nothing for four years.
Nevertheless, I wish you another Happy Birthday, and I hope your career is going well. I’m still waiting to hear from you, and I’m still bewildered.
As another daughter said to her old man
No cause, no cause. . . .
I think her name was Cordelia.
April 9, 2007
I’ve heard nothing from you, 5 years now, other than a “get well” card with no return address while I was in the hospital.
You should know that I have seen and heard regularly from your siblings and their children, (except for Zachary), and we are on good terms, I believe.
As you will know, Kelly has changed her name to Pema (means Lotus she tells me, on her way to becoming a Tibetan nun – hey, I’m glad and flattered she kept the Clark part, and didn’t change it to Redgrave!)
I see that your mum has joined Senator Barack Obama, busy launching his bid for the Democratic nomination for President, as an active member of the United Church of Christ. I hope she finds comfort in this.
You need to think about yourself now, for I was distressed to hear that you have contracted a rare condition in your hip called Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis (PVNS), an extremely rare disease that involves the lining of joints. I looked it up – only 1.8 in a million get this. And I’m told you will need a hip replacement, and are hobbling around on crutches. Which must impact your dream to be a photographer.
Sweetheart, it is at times like this that a girl needs a father, and whole family support. I urge you to contact me, because this way is quite absurd. You know where I am and how to contact me. I wish I could hug you, as I did the last time I saw you.
View image
Please come and see me. I’ll send you a ticket.
July 5, 2007
Another year, no daughter. Well, I wish you a happy day on this your birthday. Have fun.