Watershed, Bristol 2014

Family Matters

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

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

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

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.



Sally Waterman, Against film still, 2014