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“Being awake in these dead hours is not always a torment”: VJ Sellar on 3:52 AM

Guest blog by VJ Sellar, creator of 3:52AM

I took the photographs and produced the text for 3:52 AM as a way of passing time in the early hours of the morning, during a recent bout of insomnia. Although I’ve never been a brilliant sleeper, it’s got worse in the last couple of years – a side-effect of the medication I was prescribed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. Any time between 3:30 and 4am is the worst time to wake up – too soon to have had a decent night’s sleep, too late for that still to be a prospect.

When I’m awake in the early hours of the morning, I generally pick up a camera (mind you, I generally pick up a camera when I’m awake, whatever time it is). Being awake in these dead hours is not always a torment. Sometimes I get the impression that the normal boundaries I exist within have disappeared. None of the pressures of being awake in the daytime (work, money, life…) seem to exist. It can be very liberating and allows me to find new opportunities for expression.

Of course, photography is not a recommended cure for insomnia. You’re supposed to distract yourself with something mindless and soothing – activities which don’t stimulate the mind – until you start to feel sleepy enough to go back to bed. Photography, on the other hand, provokes all sorts of questions, and by the time you get to the end of a shoot you might as well have had several cups of coffee for all it’s going to help you sleep. But it does take your mind off time passing.

All the profits from the sale of this zine are going to the Maggie’s Wallace Centre at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. Maggie’s Wallace is a brilliant organisation, which provides practical, emotional and social support for people affected by cancer, in a friendly and non-clinical setting. I visited them a couple of times a week for two or three months when I was recovering from treatment. Raising money from the sale of this zine is a very small way of paying back the help and support I got there.

3:52 AM will also be available at the Sheffield Zine Fest on Saturday May 19th.

For more of VJ Sellar’s photography, visit her Instagram page

 

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