2005, photographs

Cardiff, UK

This series of images resulted from a residency in Cardiff. Rajkowska looked around the dock area and spent time in the later demolished Mission to Seamen. Conversations with the old sailors there – some disabled, some who had taken to alcohol or drug abuse – led her to reflect on the fading past of the British empire and how its memory and decline seemed to be imprinted in these men.
Nearby the mission was a disused customs office. The artist was given access and found the building as if it had been abandoned yesterday, almost a Marie Celeste of a building. Cups and plates were neatly stacked on the canteen counter, the chairs waiting for the diners. In the offices, boxes full of documents stood on the floor and the desks, ready to be moved out. Everything covered lightly by dust, fading… Her Majesty’s customs house, like the empire that it represented, was receding into muzzy, nostalgia memory, gradually but irrevocably.