In September 2009 my Mum was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, the worst it could be. This meant that the cancer had already spread to distant parts of the body, she had developed a secondary tumour in her brain and a third near her spine. Following a succession of emotionally and physically debilitating treatments including brain operations, chemotherapy, new drug trials and radiotherapy, it was clear that nothing was working. It was too late. By April 2010 they had confirmed it was terminal.
I’d begun simply by documenting her treatments, but as it became more apparent that she wasn’t going to get any better, the photographs began to be not just of her, but of things she loved, things that reminded me of her and things I wanted to remember about her.
Having painfully come to terms with the fact she was going to die, I decided I didn’t want this project to become a graphic portrayal of her death. My mother was an amazing woman, and it would have been impossible, and wrong, to focus only on the dying part. I wanted to look at the things that made her uniquely her. Her love of flowers was a beautiful part of her personality; the house was always full of them, and I realised as I photographed them, that they were symbolic of what was happening - they represented happiness, love, kindness and generosity, but also isolation, decay, and finally death.
Her house was, like she was, so individual. She had distinctive, slightly childlike taste, loving anything bright and cheerful, especially stripes. I needed to document it all. This project became not just about her, but our family home, our life, and of course, her beloved cats.
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The Observer Photobook of the Month: Tulip book review – a daughter’s floral tribute
The Guardian How I photographed my mother’s last days, written by Homa Khaleeli
BBC News My mother's favourite flower: A life remembered
Photo-Eye Book of the Week: A pick by Jordan Sullivan
British Journal of Photography - Tulip: Quiet Images of a Mother’s Struggle with Cancer
Photomonitor Book review by Anna McNay
Creative Review Photography Annual – Personal Work category winner
The Guardian In Pictures Tea, tulips and tenderness: my mother’s final days
Vanity Fair, Italy I photographed my mother's last days of life
ilPost, Italy A flower not to forget
L'Oeil de la Photographic Tulip, My Mother’s favourite flower
PhotoVoice How Photography Helped me: Celine Marchbank
Shutterhub Photo books: our latest favourites - Summer 2017
The Independent Celine Marchbank, Tulip: My Mother’s Favourite Flower, book review
Royal Photographic Society The Tulip Project
The Plus Paper Love, Loss and Catharsis
TIME Lightbox Showcase photography projects selected by the Photo Editors at TIME
The Times Literary Supplement - Book review
Further images of the book can be seen here