Inside Nick Cave’s Melancholic New Book of Polaroids

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Little Book of Lost Gloves
Little Book of Lost GlovesBrighton. Photography by Nick Cave

Sweet and slightly melancholic, the publication brings together 100 images of lost gloves the artist has chanced upon over the past three years

As the pandemic swept the globe last year, going out for walks remained one of the few freedoms we were able to exercise here in the UK – and indeed, in many other places around the world. On such excursions, which became a ritualised part of lockdown for many, you may have chanced upon – and perhaps momentarily stopped to sigh at – more than one lost glove on the pavement or park path.

100 such sights are brought together in a new book of Polaroids by the Australian musician, artist, and author Nick Cave, which is out this month. In its sweet and slightly melancholic pages, we see a myriad of lost gloves Cave has spotted and stopped to record over the past three years, between March 2018 and March 2021. Available from the artist’s online marketplace, Cave Things, Melancholy: The Little Book of Lost Gloves arrives in 100 special edition copies, which are each packaged with an original Polaroid taken by Cave.

“In January 2018, near to my home in Brighton, I found a red woollen child’s glove hanging over a sign that said ‘Church Place’,” writes Cave in the book’s foreword. ”I took a photograph of it with a Polaroid app on my iPhone. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but later that night as I was reviewing my day’s photographs, I felt its melancholy pulse and was pleased with it. The next day I passed a tan leather glove that had been placed on a railing in my street, and once again photographed it. These images began an impulse to photograph every lost glove I came upon.”

“It is remarkable how many lost gloves there are once they make themselves known. They are everywhere and all around – lost gloves longing for their partners. These single gloves are mostly seasonal and are the melancholy reminders of those who are displaced or missing or disconnected, little jolts of grief on my winter walks ... I have rescued them all but here are one hundred of the best – the most lost, the most mislaid and the most forgotten – a small melancholy meditation.“

Historically, the artist has used Polaroid as a medium to “obsessively” record life around him, and has even had a series of his images published in the Romance and Ritual Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of Another Man, which offered an intimate glimpse into his private world. “I felt the distinct need to record as much of the information around me as I possibly could, not just as an aide memoire but also as a way to hold onto things that kept disappearing on me,” Cave told Another Man at the time. “It is the seeing, both in my songs and the photographs, that is so important to me.” 

Melancholy: The Little Book of Lost Gloves, published by Cave Things, is available now