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After life: the things she left behind

When Pamela Hanson’s mother, Brooks, died last winter, she left behind the family house in Geneva in which she had lived – and raised Hanson and her three siblings – for nearly 70 years. “We moved to this house when I was two,” recalls Hanson, a fashion photographer who now lives in New York. Life in Geneva brought together a unique society and experience. “My father worked for an American trading company,” she continues. “There was a large expat community there and my parents were right at the centre of it. My mother was a glamorous company wife. Our house was set in six acres of land and we were the first ones to have a pool, so it became a hub for everyone to come to. It was the ’60s and there were lots of parties. It was a hedonistic time.”

''I was surprised how overwhelmed I was. So I started to record it. It was a history her mother revisited often during her final months, when Hanson was able to spend a lot of time with her. Yet, despite her preparedness for her mother’s death, she was still struck by the force of emotion that hit her in the days after, sitting in the empty house. “I had somehow assumed that it would be there forever,” Hanson says. She describes the resulting pictures as capturing the “moment between life and death. For me to take these pictures was to hold onto her, like she was there. I feel her presence in every shot.” Her photographer’s instincts have delivered a touching and tender portrait. “When you know that something that represents your life is goingto be gone, the only way I know how to hold onto something of it is to photograph it.”

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