Beyond the Visible: Contemporary Visualizations of Loss, Illness and the ‘Unseen’ in Representations of the Family
The Northern Charter, Newcastle
Thursday 23rd March 2017 (1pm-6:45pm)
Speakers: Rosy Martin, Sophie Ingleby, Arabella Plouviez, Sarah Tulloch and Marjolaine Ryley
Chairs: Nicky Bird and Carol McKay
This study day considered how photography is being used to create visual conversations around the lived experiences of illness, loss, medical conditions and the ‘unseen’ within representations of the family. Photography is a difficult medium when it comes to photographing something that is not always visible. The particular visual strategies adopted by the artists explored a range of approaches for circumnavigating the challenges this presents. Their work raises questions as to how we see (or don’t see) these lived experiences. More than this, through their exploratory visual strategies, such practices are asking if it is possible to perceive – and therefore understand – such experiences and conditions differently? An informal launch of ‘Image Object’ by Sarah Tulloch and ‘The Thin Blue Line, The Deep Red Sea’ by Marjolaine Ryley followed the main event.
The Northern Charter is a space for contemporary art in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Northern Charter is an artist-led organisation and provides spaces for artists and art organisations to make, show and curate contemporary art.
Sophie is a portrait and documentary photographer based in the North East of England. She has an MA in Photography, with distinction, from Sunderland University. Her first body of work Known/Unknown was exhibited in a solo exhibition at Aberdeen Art Gallery in 2010, and led to being selected as an Emerging British Photographer by the Canadian Publisher Magenta in 2011. Exhibitions include: Flash Forward ‘Emerging Photographers’ Flash Forward Festival, Boston, USA, 2012 and Toronto, Canada, 2011; ‘Known/Unknown’ Aberdeen Art Gallery, 2010, ‘Works of Revelation’ Vardy Gallery, Sunderland, 2010 and ‘Renaissance Photography Prize’ Mall Galleries, London, 2010.
Sophie discussed ‘S E E D’, a photographic insight into fertility treatment. The project explores different aspects of IVF through a series of portraits, conceptual photographic works and documentary imagery from Newcastle Fertility Centre at LIFE. The work aims to increase awareness and understanding of fertility treatment. www.sophieingleby.com
Arabella is a practising photographer whose work has been exhibited and published both nationally and internationally. Her work challenges the expectations of the photograph, working with different communities. Specifically, her work has explored areas from mental illness and criminality to the representation of women and, more recently, Alzheimer’s disease. Alongside her practice, Arabella writes about photography, often in collaboration with her colleague Dr Carol McKay. This work includes the co-editing of the book ‘The Versatile Image: Photography, Digital Technologies and the Internet’ 2013, looking specifically at the role of photography in the networked world. Arabella has, with colleagues, been instrumental in setting up NEPN (http://www.northeastphoto.net), a regional photography development and research agency, which encourages and engages the development of debate around high quality, critically engaged photography. Arabella is Professor of Photography and Academic Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland. www.photography-at-sunderland.co.uk/ArabellaPlouviezweb/index.html
Arabella presented ‘Alzheimer’s: A Quiet Story’ which considers how, through the confusion of Alzheimer’s disease, the everyday becomes out of reach, the immediate gets lost and the individual works hard to understand the confusion of others. This work takes a domestic environment which has been lived in for a lifetime and the medium of photography which we so often use as our memory to explore some of the ways in which our brains get lost through this illness.
Marjolaine Ryley has exhibited and published her work both nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, The Palacio des Artes, Porto and Wolverhampton Art Gallery, West Midlands. Publications include ‘Villa Mona – A Proper Kind of House’ Trace, 2006 and ‘Growing up in the New Age’ Daylight, 2013. Ryley’s recent publication ‘The Thin Blue Line, The Deep Red Sea’, NEPN, 2015 explores the often invisible experience of miscarriage through photography and creative writing. This project was funded through Arts Council England and was undertaken in collaboration with The Miscarriage Association Charity where she undertook a year as their Artist in Residence. Ryley’s work is held in the collections of the V&A and Serralves museum.
Marjolaine talked about the development of her work, ‘The Thin Blue Line, The Deep Red Sea’ which examines the ways miscarriage and pregnancy loss have been explored (and ignored) in arts and culture. www.marjolaineryley.co.uk
Tulloch gained an MFA with distinction from Newcastle University in 2009. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally including Rotterdam International Film Festival, Berwick Film and Media Festival, Plus Arts Projects, London, Motorcade/Flashparade, Bristol, Spike Island, Bristol, Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne and Bergby Konst Centre, Sweden. She was shortlisted for Jerwood Encounters: Family Politics in 2013. Forthcoming exhibitions in 2017 include Platform A gallery, Middlesborough and The New Bridge Project, Newcastle with fellow artists Annie O’Donnell and Katy Cole and a solo show at The Bonnafont gallery, San Francisco.
Sarah discussed the work ‘Object Image’, which interrogates both the material fabric of the image, the object, and the image content of the photographic subject. www.sarahtulloch.co.uk
FTN co-ordinator, Rosy Martin is an artist-photographer, psychological-therapist, workshop leader, lecturer and writer. She has exhibited internationally and published widely since 1985. Her work has explored issues including gender, sexuality, ageing, class, desire, memory location, urbanism, family dynamics, shame, health and disease, bereavement, grief and reparation. Recent publications include essays in ‘The Photograph and the Album’ 2013, ‘Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age’ 2013 and ‘Ageing Femininities, Troubling Representations’ 2012.
In ‘Too close to home?’ Rosy examines the challenges she faced in attempting to represent her mother’s dementia. Then the task of ‘curating the museum of sources’, somehow finding visual strategies to reflect her grief and sense of losses as she faced dismantling the family home, alone. In ‘Acts of Reparation’ she used the process of re-enactment phototherapy to replace her parents, in their home and honour the memory of who they had been. www.rosymartin.co.uk
Event photographs taken by Lauren Crawford
Storytelling, Family and Archive, Touchstones, Rochdale, Greater Manchester
Saturday 3rd September 2016 (11am-4pm)
‘Tall Tales’ is a national touring programme bringing together the work of 17 international women artists who employ the playful use of storytelling techniques in the making of their work. The exhibition launched in London at Freud Museum London, Swiss Cottage Gallery & Library and the Tavistock Clinic in April 2016. It opened in Touchstones Rochdale, Lancashire in July and will then tour to Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) in Scotland in October.
The group exhibition, curated by wewioraprojects features FTN co-ordinators, Nicky Bird’s book works ‘Tracing Echoes’ (2001) and ‘Red Herrings’ (1998), together with Jacqueline Butler’s photographs ‘On Hearing of his Illness I realised there were plants that needed watering’ (2014) and her quilt piece, ‘Mapping Household Management’ (2014).
This closing event began with a tour of the exhibition with the Tall Tales Curators, alongside Jacqueline Butler and Nicky Bird.
This was followed by an afternoon workshop ‘Storytelling, Family and Archive’ which explored re-mediations of family history in work by fellow FTN co-ordinators Lizzie Thynne and Suze Adams.
Lizzie Thynne introduced and played her sound-led work ‘Voices in Movement’ (2014), which draws on life histories from ‘Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project’, funded by The Leverhulme Trust. She interweaves two accounts of troubled girlhoods by pioneer woman builder, Barbara Jones, and historian Barbara Taylor, and counterpoints these with fleeting images of found footage and music by Ed Hughes. The work highlights the sonic and affective dimensions of the women’s stories and the conditions of their telling.
Using recollections from her mother’s cousins (all now in their late 80s/90s) with selected photographs from the family archive, Suze Adams work shares fragments of much-treasured (and oft repeated) family tales. These oral testimonies reflect times past in places largely unchanged today, the deep time of geology contrasting sharply with human mortality. Unfortunately Suze was unable to attend, so fellow FTN co-ordinator, Sally Waterman read out her text and chaired the feedback discussion on Suze’s recent video, ‘Ten Minutes of Rain’.
Subject Missing, Reid Building, Glasgow School of Art
Friday 20th November 2015 (11am-6pm)
Subject Missing asked how can lens-based practices investigate physical absences of parental/maternal figures and move beyond current representations of the missing or the lost within the ‘family’? Guest speakers Anne Brodie, Laura Gonzalez, Michail Mersinis and Jacqueline Butler were invited to bring both personal, autobiographical experiences and distinct methodological approaches demonstrated in their recent work to help discuss this question. The event included an opportunity for GSA students to show portfolios of work that also explored the theme of ‘subject missing’ within the family. Subject Missing was supported through the GSA’s Research Development Fund.
Anne Brodie is a multi-media visual artist with a cross disciplinary approach to her work. Often collaborating with scientists, her practice is based on the subjectivity hidden behind the probing, measuring and collecting of scientific data and from that, what is selected and deemed ‘valid’ enough.
After leaving the RCA, she jointly won the international Bombay Sapphire Prize for design and innovation involving the use of glass, with a short film, ‘Roker Breakfast’ in 2005. Anne was awarded the British Antarctic Survey / Arts Council fellowship to Antarctica in 2006/07, and has been the recipient of two Wellcome Trust Arts Awards for her projects ‘Exploring the Invisible’, and ‘Dead Mother’ (also jointly funded by the Arts Council in 2014). Anne’s work has been shown nationally and internationally at venues which include the Scott Polar Museum, V&A Museum, the Royal Society of Antiquaries Burlington House, The Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Maison de La Européean Photographie, Paris, Reindeerland Film festival Iceland. Her most recent solo exhibition was at Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art, London and she is currently working on a design project with the British Antarctic Survey’s Innovation department and a project based on her recent residency in Lapland.
‘My first degree in Biology and my experience of working with materials whilst studying in the Ceramics and Glass department at the RCA have been major influences on my practice. I use physical materials that surround me in my life, be that dead insects and used tissues in my basement studio, bacteria in a laboratory, or fruit in my allotment. I am interested in the presence and absence of physical bodies and what imbues them with meaning and importance. ‘Dead mother’ has been a culmination of all of my previous work, an attempt to visualize the space created by long-term maternal bereavement and its neurological imprint created by the process of synaptic pruning in the adolescent brain.’
Laura Gonzalez is an artist, dancer and writer. Her current practice explores knowledge and the body of the hysteric through film, dance, voice, photography and text. She has presented this work at various festivals including Acts Reacts (London), Unfix and Glasgow Open House. When she is not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with her camera, she teaches postgraduate students at the Glasgow School of Art and Transart Institute in Berlin and New York. She is the co-editor of a book entitled Madness, Women and the Power of Art (InterDisciplinary Press, Oxford, 2013) to which she contributed a work in collaboration with Eleanor Bowen. With her, she has also written a piece about the maternal line and secrets (performed at the ‘Motherhood and Creative Practice’ conference) and another about the paternal object that witnesses its disappearance (performed at the ‘Material Culture in Action’ conference). Both are written as exquisite corpses and start with a missing photograph in a bookwork entitled ‘Things I have never told you’. In 2014, she curated the exhibition ‘Alternative Maternals’ at the Lindner Project Space in Berlin, which travelled to London South Bank University. She is finishing the writing of a monograph on seduction and art, which will be published in 2016. She is an Ashtanga yoga practitioner and she documents her walk to the shala with one daily image titled ‘Today, 7am’, which she posts on her blog.
Michail Mersinis is a lecturer in photography at the Glasgow School of Art. An artist from Greece, his revolves around the photographic event and its relation to place. By using photography’s strenuous relationship with reality and its indexical qualities he makes work that superimpose the projected qualities of places with the real, working mainly through photography and sculpture. Recent projects include tracing the evolving history of archetypal locations of the Classical World, considering their history and location, utilising remains of fragmented personal histories to compile personal archives and constructing narratives that consider history and fiction in equal measures. He is currently working on three projects – the reconstruction of a family album made from reclaimed and borrowed material, an investigation of the photographic event as it is manifested in relationship to undocumentable events and the material relationship of photography to the apparent subject. Mersinis’ practice is one of relocation and travel travels and makes works that consider potentiality and fact in equal measures.
Jacqueline Butler is a Scottish artist living and working in Manchester, England. She works with photography, digital video, the artist book, and writing and has a particular fascination with archives and collections (both public and private). Her interests are in exploring visual narrative and contemplating on the material qualities of photography in both analogue and digital forms. Currently undertaking a PhD at Glasgow School of Art, her research considers what constitutes photography in the 21st Century, combining pre-photography principles with traditional and new print technologies. Jacqueline’s arts practice evaluates the tangibility of the contemporary photograph and explores themes associated with analogue photography, of loss and melancholia through sources such as her own family history and public collections. She exhibits her work internationally and regularly presents arts performances at international conferences and arts events. She is a coordinator of a national artists group FTN (Family Ties Network), and founding member of MCollective (artist book co-operative) Jacqueline is a Principal Lecturer in Photography and Director of Studies, in the Department of Media at Manchester School of Art, MMU.
Jacqueline’s talk, ‘Creamy Translucence: Notes on the delights of women collectors’ will focus on the power of imagination of photographic archives through work she is currently developing. The intention of the talk is to open up thoughts on the authenticity of archiving, specifically concerning the power of photographic representation and how images stimulate the imagination, no matter whether based on fact or fiction by evaluating the significance of the performative as a creative act.
Parental Concerns, Harvard Lecture Theatre , University of Bedfordshire, Luton
Friday 3rd July 2015 (11am-6pm)
This study day organised by the Family Ties Network and hosted by University of Bedfordshire examined how three practitioners have explored the stories of or collaborated with their parents, leading to the production of profound photographic, video or documentary film works. Colin Gray, Jill Daniels and David Jackson discussed their creative process and resulting artifacts, in relation to ethical issues and familial memory in this practice based research event. The Q&A sessions were faciliated by FTN co-ordinators Rosy Martin, Sally Waterman and Lizzie Thynne.
Colin Gray began to take photographs of his parents in the 1960s when he was five years old. At family occasions, holidays and celebrations Gray would be allowed one shot from the single roll of film in his Dad’s square box Brownie Twin.
The Parents series started in 1980 when Gray moved to London and felt alienated, away from home. The early pictures looked at Gray’s relationship with his parents and their relationship with each other, often expressed in a humorous way. Many of the images involved enactments of a memory or fantasy, interwoven with past events, domestic rituals, and the encroachment of old age.
In Sickness and in Health, which was begun in 2000, formed the final stage of this project, documenting his parent’s deterioration and, ultimately, his mother’s death. The hospital and church visits became more frequent, the ailments more serious, the drugs regime ever more complex. Gray found that photography was a therapeutic process, which helped him make sense of the deterioration and loss he was experiencing.
Colin Gray, born Hull, England in 1956, studied photography at the Royal College of Art, London, and lives and works in Glasgow. He has exhibited worldwide including shows at Kunsthal, Rotterdam; Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Portugal; House of Photography, Prague; Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney and Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow. Gray has appeared in numerous publications and co-published with steidlMACK, London.
My recent film made with my father serves as a kind of emotional inventory of my relationship with him and the house he has lived in for 24 years, first with my mother and now alone. My project may appear to be about my father at 134 Carlo Manche Street, Malta, but I’ve come to realise it’s about me, too: a son looking at his father. During the filming of This Is Not My House last summer there were moments when I would look through the camera and just have to stop, simply stunned: this is my father. I am astonished that a photograph or fragment of film is still able to capture the single point of any moment and make it an exception. Everything seems to follow from that.
David Jackson is an award winning photographer and filmmaker. He graduated from Goldsmiths with an MA Photography and Urban Cultures (Distinction) and his practice includes still and moving image. His recently completed moving image portrait of his father ‘This Is Not My House’ was shortlisted for the 2014 Danny Wilson Memorial Award at Brighton Photo Fringe and won the 2014 Hotshoe Photofusion Award. His short films have been funded by the BFI, BBC Films and Creative England and screened worldwide at numerous international film festivals. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Media Arts at the University of Bedfordshire and his research interests lie with photography and the politics of space.
My Private Life (2014) is an autobiographical film that explores long-standing secrets in the filmmaker, Jill Daniels’ Jewish family. Her parents, Barbara and Bertie were married at the end of WWII. During the course of their long lives they moved from house to house, country-to-country, through divorce, remarriage and physical violence. At the end of their turbulent lives Daniels films her parents in their small flat in suburban London while fictionalised dramatically charged re-enactments hint at a hidden narrative of physical violence and sexual ambivalence. Daniels’ becomes increasingly frustrated in her failed attempt to confront her parents’ about their secrets and it is only through the privacy of her voice, placed over family photographs and static shots of houses and flats where her parents lived, that she is able to dispute the authenticity of their memories of events in the past.
Jill Daniels is an award winning filmmaker. After studying film at the Royal College of Art she began her career with the short fiction film, I’m In Heaven (1989), about a woman who lives alone, estranged from her orthodox Jewish family. Many of her documentary films have explored her Jewish background, through the subjects of exile, memory and contested identity. In her recent films she has turned to autobiography and in 2011 she made The Border Crossing, a film about a sexual attack she suffered during a journey she took as a young woman in the Basque country. She teaches Film at the University of East London and is co-editor of Truth, Dare or Promise: Art and Documentary Revisited (2013), Cambridge Scholars.
Family Matters, Watershed, Harbourside, Bristol, UK
Friday 5th December 2014 (11am-4:30pm)
You can listen to the presentations at this link:
This informal research seminar explored representations of familial relations through photography and film with presentations from fine art practitioner and curator Nick Kaplony (www.nickkaplony.com) and Shawn Sobers artist and senior lecturer in Photography and Media at UWE Bristol (www.shawnsobers.com)
Both Nick and Shawn showed a range of works that addressed issues of loss and memorial, touching on the political by examining issues of inheritance and legacy, identity and diaspora. In addition, Sally Waterman and Suze Adams from the Family Ties Network showed new video work.
The event was jointly hosted by the Family Ties Network and the Visual Culture Research Group at UWE Bristol, introduced by Clare Johnson and responded to by Alex Franklin,.
Nick Kaplony is a fine art practitioner, freelance curator and programme coordinator at Artquest. Predominantly working in the medium of photography, familial relations motivate much of his practice which often focuses on his parents.
This starting point has led him to look at ideas around inheritance, legacy and genetic predisposition, examining the extent to which emotional and mental as well as physical traits are carried down the family line. Wider themes of loss and memorial also run through the work and Kaplony explores these using found objects that belonged to his parents.
Through discussing his own practice and the work of other artists dealing with similar concerns he has encountered as a curator, Kaplony’s presentation considered different approaches to such material and what insights this kind of work might offer on the process of mourning and its relationship with memory.
Shawn Sobers: Family Ways
Sobers presentation discussed different ways the notion of family has entered his work: from the macro perspective of identity through diaspora communities through to very personal reflections relating to immediate family members and events. Showing examples from a range of genres – photography, moving image, illustration and multimedia works – he re-evaluated how the notion of family has been both a central direct concern and an indirect metaphor as well as a creative vehicle for ideas.
In Sobers work, the idea of family has taken on political dimensions and also become personal therapy for self-healing. This presentation was a candid auto-ethnographic discussion of these key moments in his career, and what he had learned along the way.
Suze Adams is a member of the Family Ties Network and VCRG at UWE Bristol where she is an Associate Lecturer. Underpinned by research and critical reflection, her practice focuses on the following themes: notions of home and inhabitation; experiential time and memory; the space between interior and exterior landscapes and embodiment/multi-sensory experience. Via the selection of appropriate media, a corporeal practice is developed in tandem with conceptual understandings and translated into series and sequences of work which present in the form of still and moving imagery, sound, text, performance and installation.
Much of Suze’s work is sited on (and inspired by) the Hebridean Isle of Mull where she has a series of on-going projects. As the home of her maternal ancestors and her migrant base, Suze discussed films and photographs generated by a recent visit to Mull, including the video, ‘Breath’ which reflects on the passing of time. www.suzeadams.co.uk
Sally Waterman is a founder member of the Family Ties Network and a visiting lecturer at Ravensborne, London. Her photographic and video arts practice employs literary adaptation as a mechanism for self-portraiture, exploring memory, place and familial relationships. She discussed her recent video, ‘Against’, which plays with the perception of family memory through a series of repetitive gestures, performed in response to Donna Mckevitt’s musical score, based on Derek Jarman’s writing. The desire for attachment, coupled with an unsettling sense of separation is implied as Waterman attempts to embody the projected images she took of her grandmother, just before she died twenty years ago.
Family Ties: Reframing Memory Exhibition Events (3rd-25th July 2014)
The Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Friday 25th July, 6:30pm, Birkbeck Cinema Lizzie Thynne, On the Border film screening and Q and A with Dr. Silke Arnold-de Simine, Senior Lecturer in Memory and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck
On the Border, enacts a daughter’s exploration of her Finnish family’s history prompted by the letters, objects, and photographs left in her mother’s apartment. Fragmented memories, dreams, and diary entries are juxtaposed with the director’s journey to significant places and people in that history from during and after the Russo-Finnish wars, 1939-1944. Thynne’s mother, Lea, and her siblings were evacuated from the disputed border territory of Karelia and Lea’s father was killed in 1941, fighting alongside the Germans against the Soviets. The story of her father’s death in action is contrasted with the more indirect impact of the war and its aftermath on the destinies of Lea, her mother and siblings. Lea began to see and hear things from age 42. Thynne searches for the causes of her mother’s breakdown as well as acknowledging that she can only understand her family’s past through her own experience and imagination. In this hypnotic work of mourning and remembrance, past and present, associations, memory and imagining intertwine, as the film charts the lingering traces of conflict and exile across generations.
Saturday 5th July, 2-5pm, Peltz Gallery
Artist talk in gallery, led by Nick Kaplony, Independent curator and Senior Programme Coordinator at Artquest and short film screening in Birkbeck Cinema, which featured work by Suze Adams, Rosy Martin and Sally Waterman. This 35-minute looping programme dealt with key themes such as ancestral connections to place, the parental home, mother-daughter relationships, the family album and mourning and loss.
- Rosy Martin, Too Close to Home, 1999, 8 min
- Rosy Martin, The Sitting Room, 2002, 8 min
- Sally Waterman, Wisdom, 2013, 1min, 25 secs
- Sally Waterman, Against, 2014, 5 min
- Suze Adams, Communion, 2012, 12 min
Public and Personal Archives: Creative Negotiations
Creativity Zone, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, 4th April 2014 (11 – 6pm)
This study day explored the relationship of public and personal in different life story projects which prioritize listening, sound and voice. Three presentations by Nicky Bird, Melanie Friend, Lizzie Thynne, Ed Hughes and Margaretta Jolly discussed questions of politics, representation and aesthetics which arise in using life stories in creative works. The event included a display of new video, photography, and sound work by FTN members, Suze Adams, Jacqueline Butler, Rosy Martin, Sally Waterman and Lizzie Thynne in the Creativity Zone.
Standing By: The Ethics of Domestic Ethnography, Melanie Friend, University of Sussex
Standing By focused on Melanie Friend’s elderly parents and their daily routine of doing the ‘Quick’ crossword, undertaken partly to combat memory loss. Whilst the piece is sound-led, Friend showed work in progress on the interweaving of images with the 27-minute soundtrack. Friend uses a tightly edited range of her own photographs taken in the past decade, together with images from her parents’ family album. The recordings of her parents’ daily crossword routine, made between 2001 & 2007, make an engaging framework and device for exploring both their 60-year relationship, and, inevitably, Friend’s own relationship with her parents. Friend’s talk dealt with questions of the everyday, representation and ethics. http://www.melaniefriend.com/
Voyaging Voices: Reflections on a Glasgow Women’s Library Residency, Dr Nicky Bird, Glasgow School of Art
Originally set up in 1991, the Glasgow Women’s Library has a strong grassroots identity. During 2009-10, FTN member, Nicky Bird was an artist-in-residence at a time when the Library was in a temporary location and about to move into Glasgow’s Mitchell Library. Its archive was then made up of largely uncatalogued donations, often from individual women, in addition to housing other archives such as The Lesbian Archive.
It was no coincidence that listening became important throughout the residency; to the voices of women talking about familial objects that were important to them; to the voice of the library’s Archivist talking about how to ‘manage’ desires and practicalities surrounding the Glasgow Women’s Library archive. The site-specific sound work Unsorted Donations emerged from this. In a series of one-to-one recorded interviews, Bird asked ten women connected to the Library – its users, volunteers and staff – to bring in an object that was important to them and imagine they were donating it to the archive. The interviews were edited to very short extracts, installed as hidden sound pieces inside boxes and dispersed throughout the archive. Participants were then invited to make an appointment at the archive and to make their own way through it, following the sound of voices coming from the boxes. From the viewpoint of an artist, Bird’s talk navigated these voices, and reflected on the tensions between the public and private at a point when an archive is becoming more formally organized.
Voices in Movement: Lizzie Thynne, Ed Hughes and Margaretta Jolly, University of Sussex
FTN member, Lizzie Thynne and Margaretta Jolly discussed an experimental work in progress in choreographing voices and sound from Sisterhood and After: the Women’s Liberation Oral History Project. A 15 minute extract from the work-in-progress, an installation entitled Voices in Movement was shown in the Creativity Zone. Sisterhood and After is a major oral history that has captured the life stories of sixty women who took part in the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain in the 1970s and 80s. Oral history focuses by its nature on individual stories but the Movement encouraged women to look at the common aspects of their experience, as well as their differences, and understand how the personal is political. This installation juxtaposed some of the voices from the project within a soundscape to explore what connections and counterpoints emerge and evoke some of the emotions behind the stories and the way they are told.
Voices in Movement is produced by Lizzie Thynne, Ed Hughes and Margaretta Jolly (all from the School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex). Sisterhood and After was produced by the University of Sussex partnership with the British Library and The Women’s Library. It was funded by the Leverhulme Trust. http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/sisterhood/about.html http://www.sussex.ac.uk/clhlwr/research/sisterhoodafter
Presented by the Family Ties Network and Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research, University of Sussex. Supported by the Leverhulme Trust
Family Ties Network Research Seminar: Rosy Martin and Marjolaine Ryley (Chaired by Camilla Brown)
Savoy Suite, University of West London, Ealing, 30th November 2013 (12-4pm)
Rosy Martin’s recent work mediates the processes of bereavement and mourning. Alone, in the theatre of memories, the home she grew up in, it was as if the past haunted: In Situ makes this feeling visible. Using re-enactments, performative actions of becoming, in Acts of Reparation she embodies both her parents within the domestic setting, as if from another time and place, re-imagining a lost past. In documenting the tasks of emptying her childhood home of all significations Martin avoids any sentimental nostalgia, yet finds a visual language to deal with longing for what has been lost. Reflections upon these themes have been explored in a recent series of self-portraits. The body of work becomes a homage to the ordinary, everyday and usually consequently overlooked.
Rosy Martin is an artist-photographer, psychological-therapist, workshop leader, lecturer and writer. She explores the relationships between photography, memory, identities and unconscious processes using self-portraiture, still life photography, digital imaging and video. From 1983, with Jo Spence, she pioneered re-enactment phototherapy. She has exhibited internationally and published widely since 1985. Her work has explored issues including gender, sexuality, ageing, class, desire, memory, location, urbanism, family dynamics, shame, health and disease, bereavement, grief and reparation. Recent publications include essays in ‘The photograph and the album’ (2013), ‘Phototherapy and therapeutic photography in a digital age’ (2013) and ‘Ageing femininities, troubling representations’ (2012). In 2013 her work has been exhibited in Focus Photography Festival Mumbai and ‘Il Corpo Solitario’ Perugia.
Marjolaine Ryley is an artist working with photography, moving image, text, objects and the web. Much of her work has explored family photography including her first Monograph Villa Mona – A Proper Kind of House published by Trace Editions, UK (2006) and Field Study 7 – Residence Astral published by PARC (2008).
The Thin Blue Line / The Deep Red Sea is a new body of work exploring miscarriage and pregnancy loss. Although this is Ryley’s most personal work to date documenting her own journey to start a family, she continues to use the personal to explore and question wider social, political (and this case scientific and medical) issues. Her approach uses a practice-based research model to explore this subject and its representations in art and culture.
Ryley has exhibited and published her work both nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, Tate Modern, London and The Palacio des Artes, Porto.Ryley has recently published her second Monograph Growing up in the New Age Daylight Books, NY (2013), an autobiographical exploration into ‘the counterculture’ of the 1960s and 70s and her experience growing up in that environment. For further details see: http://www.photomonitor.co.uk/2013/09/growing-up-in-the-new-age/. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Photography and Video Art at the University of Sunderland, UK
Family Ties Network Research Seminar: Sally Waterman and Eti Wade
Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, 28th June 2013 (2-5pm)
Eti Wade is a visual conceptual artist identifying as ‘Mother/Artist’. Her practice concerns invisible aspects of the maternal in contemporary art and culture with a particular focus on the visual articulation of hidden aspects of maternal experience i.e. maternal ambivalence, post-natal depression, difficulty in attachment etc.
Eti’s work often involves her children’s bodies although she insists that the works should not be read as collaborations. She states that the children are co-opted as props or elements enabling her to express aspects of maternal subjectivity. This strategy is fundamental in occupying a ‘mother/artist’ position, which counteracts the invisibility of the maternal subject versus the child in Psychoanalytic dogma. Eti showed and discussed works produced in the past decade, including Kisses, The 2.4 Project, Jocasta, Bathwomb and Goodnight Boys.
Sally Waterman employs literary adaptation as a mechanism for self-portraiture, creating photographic and video works that explore memory, place and familial relationships. For this event she presented recent work from her Translucence series. Serving as a reflection on the fragility of life, this project investigates her experience of loss, in particular, that of her grandmother, who passed away nearly twenty years ago.
The final collection of videos, February, Against and Wisdom, interpret three instrumental tracks from Donna McKevitt’s musical score, ‘Translucence’ (Warner Classics, 1998), which were inspired by the writing’s of artist and film director, Derek Jarman.
The accompanying series of image/text photographs elaborate upon the theme, extracting carefully chosen lines from Jarman’s books, Chroma (1994) and Smiling in Slow Motion (2000), together with literary quotations sourced from works by Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, T.S Eliot, Sylvia Plath and Christina Rossetti.
‘Tracing Ancestral Homelands’ Film Screening
Richmond American International University, London, UK, 3rd November 2012
The Family Ties Network organised a film screening of new works by Suze Adams and Lizzie Thynne exploring family, landscape and memory, followed by a panel discussion.
Communion, Suze Adams, UK, 2012, 11:56’
The place that inspires Communion is the Hebridean Isle of Mull, home to Suze’s maternal ancestors, where for the past decade she has been investigating and tracing family connections. From the starting point of oral histories, on Mull she has been exploring the inter-relationship between a self and a place in relation to notions of home – does home constitute people or place, is it now or then, here or there? Communion was first performed at S’Airde Beinn, a location significant to the Morison family and is a work that, through multiple sensory layers, examines issues of belonging and identity. Focusing on her own relationship with Mull, Suze asks what and where we might call ‘home’.
Suze Adams is an independent artist whose critical practice explores the interface between people and place examining the relationship between landscape and those (human and non-human) that shape the environments we encounter. Focusing on temporality and the oscillation between presence and absence in the experiential landscape, her work traces ancestral sites and geological wonders, animal tracks and elemental scars. Treading a delicate path between the physical and psychological, documentation and poetry, fact and fiction, her research crystallises in the form of still and moving imagery, installation and performance. Suze is an Associate Lecturer at UWE Bristol and exhibits regularly throughout the UK and Europe.
On the Border, Lizzie Thynne, UK, 2012, 56’
A daughter’s exploration of her Finnish family’s history prompted by the letters, objects, and photographs left in her mother’s apartment. Fragmented memories, dreams, and diary entries are juxtaposed with the director’s journey to significant places and people in that history from during and after the Russo-Finnish wars, 1939-1944. Her mother, Lea, and her siblings were evacuated from the disputed border territory of Karelia and Lea’s father was killed in 1941, fighting alongside the Germans against the Soviets. The story of her father’s death in action is contrasted with the more indirect impact of the war and its aftermath on the destinies of Lea, her mother and siblings. Lea began to see and hear things from age 42. Thynne searches for the causes of her mother’s breakdown as well as acknowledging that she can only understand her family’s past through her own experience and imagination. In this hypnotic work of mourning and remembrance, past and present, associations, memory and imagining intertwine, as the film charts the lingering traces of conflict and exile across generations.