Francesco Pennacchio . Unlike Flowers, She won’t come back with Spring

“ Dad.
Will Mum come back with spring
like flowers do? “

To bereave as a child is no trivial issue, as it is not a person that is missed – as there is no memory of the mourned person. It is instead an emotional role, a character. At the kindergarten, I used to go around interrogating other children whether their mother was in Heaven too – the normality for me. For many years I have mourned and missed the character of the Mother, rather than person Emanuela was.

As a way to protect the child-myself, Nature built a barrier between me and my mother’s absence. The grief got frozen, the pain suspended. It was for me the period I baptised as the Great Silence: thirty years where I didn’t look for her image. I had only seen the few pictures that my relatives had exposed in their homes. But I had never willingly opened a photo album, asked about her photographs, investigated the person she had been. It was nothing intentional or deliberately chosen: I had never thought that I did not want to explore my mother’s images. Only, for thirty years, I had never considered this as a possibility.

After almost 30 years of silence, I finally opened that closet where I confined the memory – and the absence – of my beloved mother, Emanuela, who died because of cancer when I was just two.

Unlike flowers, she won’t come back with spring, portrays my journey through the traces she left on Earth, intending to capture some fragments of the person she was, and I cannot remember. There is no narrative to be retrieved or unveiled, no story to be told. The author of the project is the two-year old myself, who shared a little slice of time – 1044 days – with her. It is only through suggestions, and visual alliteration, that I try to surface fragments of her essence and existence. The absence of text, except for the short introductory paragraph, wants to set the childhood space I could experience with her.

To illustrate this journey, I juxtapose the renovating natural world against the fragments of her life that have been captured on film. I choose polaroids as physical building blocks for the reconstruction of her memory. The prosperous family archive acts as their counterparts, in the attempt to find a meeting point between us. Halfway.


I am an eclectic human whose experience range from physics to photojournalism, data science and public health. Shortly, I spent more time figuring out how to change my path than actually working for it. Still, I only feel complete with a camera in my hand and a story to tell.

Fascinated by human beings, my focus lays at the intersection between memory, identity, faith and folklore. Deep in love with Edinburgh, the Volga, Spanish folklore, photo archives and pad Thai.