Projects | A series of photographs | “Forgotten Memories”

Forgotten Memories is a series of photographs of matchboxes, shot in both black & white and colour.  Even though certain images from the series appear on the back page of  the Bacchanalian Gazette it is an earlier creation. It continues to be added to. 

The series supports an exhibition of between 20 and 40 images, depending on the venue. The colour prints are C-type prints mounted on aluminium and the black & white images are archival Silver Gelatine Prints. A limited edition of 10  16″ x 20″ prints.

First exhibited in London at The Muse Gallery in Portobello Road, an upcoming exhibition is planned for 2020 in Paris. 

Below you will find some sample images and the artist statement.


Freely distributed matches were once ubiquitous. Found in every bar, in every restaurant and hotel all over the world.  They knew no cultural or social boundary, and were as available in the lobby of the Ritz as they were in a dingy backstreet bar, in any city in the World.   

For those who may barely remember the days when you could smoke indoors, at the bar, or on airplanes, these branded matches were pre social-media marketing. They were part of life’s ephemera. It’s no accident they slipped into cinema as a MacGuffin, or the tool that saved the world, as they were everywhere and they are useful. While they were particularly useful to smokers; they were also an aide memoir, ideal places to note a number, an address, as well as lighting the gas hob or a candle, so helpful to everyone and as a result acquired everywhere and kept. 

These little boxes or books travelled with you until they were lost, forgotten or used up. Most ended up in the bin, burying notes, names, dates and memories as they went. Others made it home, in bags, suitcases, and pockets. Collecting in drawers, in bowls, on mantelpieces, under beds and down the back of sofas.  

This accidental collection came together from all corners of my life when I was packing to move house.  Eventually boxed up, sent to storage and forgotten, only to be rediscovered several years later: A sack of hundreds of scarred, bent, torn and broken books and boxes of matches. It was like finding a stash of old love letters or diaries. They were sediment, detritus, archaeology of a time in my life. Reminders of where I had been, opening doors to memories which at the same time ask and ask. With whom? Really? When? Why? Did I? I remember! Or do I?  

Memory is unable be the guardian of the truth as it is subjective, and it is a catalyst for our imagination.  As much as each matchbox offers a ‘memory’ it also offers imaginary tales.  

When placed in front of the lens each matchbox seemed to tell me their tale. Even those that survived in a pristine state somehow had a message from their past. 

I photographed them up-close, isolated in a plain uncluttered composition, to tease a story from each with exaggerated scale. Every design, scratch, striker, stain, mark, number or note offer something to the imagination.  Each box offers a story from our experience, personal or vicarious, real or imagined. A mirror to anybody’s and everybody’s story.  

You don’t know how they got to look that way, yet you do.  Collectively these are our forgotten memories.  

Andrew Brooke, Paris 2017.   Text and Images © Andrew Brooke 2009 –