The Romania figured in the photographs of Emily Madeline Bradshaw is one which might seem familiar even to someone who, like myself, has never visited. That is perhaps because Bradshaw’s images call for a sense of nostalgia that only certain kinds of photographs can encapsulate, the kind of wonder that only a tourist exploring a place that is entirely new to them can feel. They are not necessarily perfect, but neither is any experience of a place when you get to know it for the first time – they are full of feeling, and the gaze is honest, sweet, and attentive to detail. Thus I would describe Bradshaw’s depictions of the streets in Romania: the streets seen through the eyes of someone who is still understanding her own sense of wonder for the place.
The photographer explains the duality of the title: on one hand, it intends to honor the several trips that Bradshaw took to the country, with which she came to slowly and more steadily find comfort in, venture out within it and with which she fell progressively in love with the country; secondly, in honor of a tale she heard in one of these trips, that of Queen Marie of Romania. As Bradshaw herself explains.
“Queen Marie of Romania, who was born (near where I live) at Eastwell Manor in Ashford, Kent, had a last request. Upon her death, her request was that her heart would be buried in her favourite summer residence of Balchik Palace on the coast of the Black Sea. During her lifetime Balchik was under the control of Romania, then in 1940 it was handed back to Bulgaria. Her heart was buried with a double-faced flag; on one side the flag of Romania and on the other the flag of England. In 1940 her heart was transferred to Bran Castle. Her wishes were then tainted in 1968 when the government damaged the marble vessel which contained her heart. Inside the marble was a silver box which held the heart, this silver box was transferred to the National Museum of Romanian History and in a bizarre twist of events only the silver boxes and her crown were moved to Peleș Castle in 2013. Until 2015 her heart stayed in the basement of the museum. It was only then that it was moved to Pelișor Castle, which is next to the larger Peleș Castle. These castles are situated in the beautiful mountain resort of Sinaia. Her heart is now in the ‘Golden Room’ which is where it stopped beating in 1938. She was born into British Royalty and was the last Queen of Romania.”
Much like the heart of the Queen, so does the heart of the photographer remain in Romania, and in a way, ours almost does too: it is now up to us to make as much as possible to reach out for it back in the photographs, and make a decision to visit for ourselves.
“România, îți dau inima mea” is a zine consisting of 40 photographs taken in Bucharest, Constanța and Mamaia during the Summer of 2018. The photographs were taken using a Pentax Espio 738G and a variety of 35mm film: Kodak Gold 200, Fujifilm Superia 400 and Lomography Lady Grey 400.
Zine available here Buy The Zine
All images © Emily Madeline Bradshaw / Instagram: @emilymadelinebradshaw
Written by Inês Melo