I Will Tell You My Life: Making Memory (18th February 2016)

ViSiONA festival, Auditorium of the Council of Huesca, Spain


Family Ties Network collaborated with Pedro Vicente and Elena Zapata from ViSiONA to curate a 45 minute film showreel for their festival.

The 2015-2016 audiovisual programme was divided into two major sections: I Will Tell You My Life: The Film Within A Film, which took place in different municipalities of the province of Huesca, and I will Tell You My Life: Making Memory, a series of feature and short films organised in collaboration with international institutions and festivals that took place around the city of Huesca.

I will Tell You My Life: Making Memory included a projection of autobiographical experimental works by FTN co-ordinators Suze Adams, Jacqueline Butler and Sally Waterman, together with filmmakers David Jackson and Sarah Pucill, who have participated in past FTN events.

These film screening events were held in association with the group exhibition, I, Me, Me, You (27th November 2015-21st February 2016) which brought together works by eleven national and international artists, including Elina Brotherus, Sophie Calle, Claude Cahun, John Coplans and Ana Mendieta to explore their own identity in terms of gender, race, memory, family, loss, forgetfulness, illness and time.

Film Programme

Sally Waterman ‘Wisdom’, 2013 (1’25 min)

Music: ‘Sweet Wisdom’, Donna McKevitt, from ‘Translucence’, Warner Classics, 1998

‘Wisdom’ is a stop-frame animation sequence that uses digital snapshots taken over a three-year period from Easter 2010 to Easter 2013. The work documents Waterman’s familial relationships, together with the changing seasons, to create a sense of time passing, with rituals being re-enacted and return visits to the same locations, in particular, her Mother’s home on the Isle of Wight.

Jacqueline Butler ‘Still Rooms’, 2005 (5 min)

The film camera acts as a visualiser of an action performance of the mother, “mummy” marking out her territory, ensuring all are safe in the home. Filmed as a diptych, the camera moves through the home, creating both a physical and emotion layout of the house’s structure. The split screen plays resonating forward movement with reverse action, indicating the histories of both the family and the home.

David Jackson ‘This is Not My House’, 2014 (14 min)

This Is Not My House documents an encounter between filmmaker David Jackson and his widowed father in Malta. At the heart of this familial exchange between father and son lie the immediacies of the Mediterranean not only as a place of lived, everyday experience but also as a projected space of home and belonging.

Suze Adams ‘Breath’, 2014 (5 min)

‘Breath’ is an autobiographical film made in homage to the artist’s ancestors that explores links across the generations as she experiences them today.  The video is her response to visits made to the landscape where her family lived and worked in the 1800s – a harsh but beautiful farmland location on an island off the north-west coast of Scotland.

Sally Waterman ‘Against’, 2014 (5 min)

Music: ‘Dance Against the Void’, Donna McKevitt, from ‘Translucence’, Warner Classics, 1998

‘Against’ plays with the perception of family memory through a series of repetitive gestures, performed by the artist in response to Mckevitt’s score. 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.

Sarah Pucill ‘Stages of Mourning’ 2004 (17 min)

Ritualised through performance to camera, ‘Stages of Mourning’ is Pucill’s journey of bereavement, as she orders image fragments of her late lover and collaborator, Sandra Lahire. In as much as this is a meditation on coming to terms with loss, the film is an exploration of how our relationship with the dead is made different through film


Family Ties: Reframing Memory (3rd-25th July 2014)                   

The Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H OPD       (Monday-Friday 10am-7pm)

Exhibition Reviews:



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How might we read memory in relation to the family, and how might we enact these memories through art practice? This group exhibition addressed the representation of family memory through the photographic, video and sound works of six artists. Family Ties: Reframing Memory explored the bittersweet aspects of reflective nostalgia, yet also considered the conflicts and contradictions inherent in acts of remembering.

Suze Adams navigates the borders of fact and fiction in an exploratory retracing of her maternal ancestors on the Isle of Mull. Nicky Bird draws on family albums belonging to others to illuminate personal, political memories connected to place. Jacqueline Butler’s poetic approach alludes to sensory memories prompted by public photographic collections and her personal archive. Rosy Martin re-enacts a lost past as she embodies both of her parents in their family home, as well as using projections to evoke a sense of haunting. Lizzie Thynne’s sound-led work examines the inter-subjectivity of life histories, highlighting the link between memories of childhood and feminist politics. Sally Waterman employs literary adaptation as a mechanism for self-portraiture, recalling traumatic memories of family conflict through T.S Eliot’s poem ‘The Waste Land’.

As artist members of the Family Ties Network, their work offered a poignant and provocative response to themes arising from the associated conference, Picturing the Family: Media, Narrative, Memory (10th and 11th July 2014, Birkbeck, University of London). All FTN members presented papers at this conference across two panels.



Nicky Bird, ‘Beneath the Surface/Hidden Place’, 2007-10


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, featuring work by Suze Adams, Rosy Martin and Sally Waterman. This  35-minute looping programme deals 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

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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.

Lizzie Thynne, 'On the Border', 2012

Lizzie Thynne, ‘On the Border’, 2012


2 thoughts on “Exhibitions

  1. Angela Kelly

    I have updated my current website with work from the Catharsis series which I presented at the Family Ties conference. The site needs some adjustments and updated texts, Any feedback is welcome. AngelaKellyPhoto.com

  2. Pingback: Family Ties: Reframing Memory, 3rd-25th July 2014 | Nicky Bird

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