My Hands on Freud’s Couch A4 | Ellen Rogers

Ellen Rogers

My Hands on Freud’s Couch


My Hands on Freud’s Couch
My Hands on Freud’s Couch My Hands on Freud’s Couch My Hands on Freud’s Couch

A4 hand signed reproduction C-type Print Matt.

These are my arms; the photo shows the strange way I hold my anxious hands; they are genuinely laid on Freud’s couch. My partner, Kaveh, took the image I had set up; I then printed it in the darkroom and hand-painted it in my small studio. I kept all the brush marks and dust from the process, its natural texture and fidelity.

This is one of those sought-after situations when a dream job comes up. I was in the process of applying for a PhD; I knew what my subject was to be; it was to be about melancholia in fashion photography. Just as I started my application, I had an email from the Smithsonian Magazine; one of the magazine editors had liked my work via various social media platforms for some years. They asked that I employ my much-neglected hand-colouring method to Freud’s former office space in London.

The space is electric; you can feel every object, including his coach; it’s a deeply rich and strange multi-coloured object, a couch covered in Persian rugs, shaped, and moulded around his patients over the years.

Freud didn’t coin the term melancholia; it was a medieval medical term, but he gave it a new, although borrowed, meaning. There was synchronicity. According to Freud, melancholia centres on a lost love object; the patient will never know; the object or feeling must be a mystery for one to long for it. Once we know what we have lost and discover what causes us such longing, we are no longer melancholic. Once we know what we have lost, we begin a healthy mourning process instead.

So, this image holds meaning for me; its synchronicity is a reminder that themes stay with an artist in their lifetime, that we repeat without realising, reprocessing, attracting and compelling these themes as we journey. It also reminds me to stay faithful to my life’s work and be tender and open.