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3-25 July 2014: Family Ties: Reframing Memory

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 considers the conflicts and contradictions inherent in acts of remembering.

Suze Adams navigated the borders of fact and fiction in an exploratory retracing of her maternal ancestors on the Isle of Mull. Nicky Bird drew on family albums belonging to others to illuminate personal, political memories connected to place. Jacqueline Butler’s poetic approach alluded to sensory memories prompted by public photographic collections and her personal archive. Rosy Martin re-enacted 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 examined the inter-subjectivity of life histories, highlighting the link between memories of childhood and feminist politics. Sally Waterman employed 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 offers 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).


  • Saturday 5th July, 2:00pm, Peltz Gallery: Artist talked in gallery and short film screened in Birkbeck Cinema, featuring work by Suze Adams, Rosy Martin and Sally Waterman. This rolling 35-minute programme featured work that deals with key themes such as ancestral connections to place, the parental home, mother-daughter relationships, the family album and mourning and loss.
  • Friday 25th July, 6:30pm, Birkbeck Cinema: Lizzie Thynne, On the Border film screening and Q&A - A daughter’s exploration of her Finnish family’s history, prompted by the letters, objects and photographs left in her mother’s apartment.


The Family Ties Network is a group of artists, filmmakers and writers based in the UK, who explore connections between memory, space, place and the family in photography and moving image. Through events, conferences, exhibitions and publications, they aim to investigate a range of issues, encompassing the visual representation of family memories, oral history, bereavement, displacement, estrangement and the family home.

Photo credit: Rosy Martin, In Situ, 2006