Abstract

‘My most beautiful/My ugliest’ is a photography book made by students from Group 5/6 (ages 8-10 years). The students took turns to bring home a simple stills camera, with the task of photographing the most beautiful and the ugliest spots in their house and garden. Their associations with beauty and ugliness are reproduced in a full colour book which has two front covers. One half of the book shows the most beautiful spots, and then halfway through, the book must be turned around in order to see the ugliest spots - or the other way around.

After making the photos, the children were also asked to write down why they had chosen these spots as the most beautiful and the ugliest. Reading through and looking at this fascinating record, it soon becomes clear that for children between eight and ten years of age, beauty and ugliness are related not to aesthetics but to emotions. Beauty is often associated, for example, with coziness, laziness and dreaming. And so the TV is often one of the favourite pieces of furniture: “Because I think it’s pretty that the TV is so big...”. Another wrote “I can put my karate-card and my car on the TV”. After the TV, bedrooms are often the most beautiful spaces. As long as it is cozy and light and has a view. The ugliest places are those which are dark, smelly and full of noise. The toilet, or a mouldy bathroom ceiling, are chosen many times as the ugliest place. Even a hanging plant can be ugly if it drops too many leaves “and then my mother makes me clean it up”. Noise is also ugly, as Truus writes in his description of a vacuumcleaner in a cupboard.

The photos and the texts show that a child’s world, in an environment mostly controlled by adults, goes beyond the obvious. Above all, this collection of 2 x 23 photos gives us as outsiders the opportunity to enter their world.