Family Ties Network: The Political Geographies of the Archive – Research

Swimmers at Reedswood Park open air pool, early 20th Century, courtesy of Walsall Archive used in the Women of Walsall Living Memory Project by Caroline Molloy

Following on from our regular face to face research symposiums in which we share ongoing practice, this is a 2- part online event that will take place on 17th and 24th September 2020 6-7.30pm. Registration is free but you will need to book a place to receive the Zoom links for the sessions. The links will be sent out shortly before the scheduled event.


This two-part online research seminar event raises questions about how archives of ‘vernacular’ photographs inform and shape our understanding of both the present and the past. During the presentations, each speaker will examine how archives are re-activated within contemporary photographic practice as potential sites of critical political significance. Whilst the starting point originates with the material culture of the archive itself, the political relationships within the selected photographic materials will be critically evaluated. These discussions aim to expose and debate the continued complexity of gender, sexuality, race, class and politics held within the photographic archive.

Part 1 – The Personal Is Still Political

17th September 2020 (6:00-7.30pm)

Sian Macfarlane, Coventry University (30 mins)

Lizzie Thynne, Professor of Film at Sussex University (30 mins)

Chair: Caroline Molloy, Programme Leader in Fine Art and Photography at UCA Farnham

Sian Macfarlane is a Lecturer in Photography at Coventry University, and a practising artist working with photography, moving image and installation. She works on sustained projects concerned with place and our relationship to it. Her practice focuses on engaging in archival research that considers vernacular histories, reinstating the archive in the present, considering what is missing. She has recently published work on practice-led research into archives, in the Collections Journal published by Sage, and presented research at Falmouth University. She has exhibited widely including Photofusion, The New Art Gallery Walsall, and Vivid Projects, Birmingham. She is currently working on a Creative Black Country funded site-specific project in Wolverhampton. Sian will be speaking about her project ‘We will meet sooner than two mountains’ concerned with the history of artists in North Wales, and her project ‘We Are Illuminated’ considering the social history of Walsall. She will also be discussing current ongoing work.

Lizzie Thynne is a film-maker and writer on media and film. She is Professor of Film at Sussex University. Her work often focuses on women’s life histories and she is interested in the creative interpretation of archive and the re-appropriating of film and photography from the past. Lizzie will be discussing her new feature documentary, Independent Miss Craigie (2020) about the life of filmmaker, Jill Craigie, which formed part of a larger AHRC funded project (2018 -2021). Craigie was dubbed ‘Britain’s first woman film-maker’ in the 1940s when she produced a handful of critically acclaimed documentaries which imagined what life in post-war Britain could be like. The most self-avowed feminist film-maker of the war period, her work encompassed screenwriting, broadcasting and journalism after she struggled to maintain a directing career in the sexist film and TV business. In 1949, she married her third husband, former Labour party leader, Michael Foot. Lizzie will discuss the challenges of representing Craigie’s life and career, in particular, the tensions between her private and professional life, her feminism and her socialism as well as the demands of being seen as a ‘pioneer’ woman director. and

Part 2 – The Living Memory Project

24th September 2020 (6:00-7.45pm)

Geoff Broadway, Director of the Living Memory Project (30 mins)

Caroline Molloy, Living Memory Bursary Artist in Residence (20 mins)

Harmeet Chagger-Khan, Living Memory Artist in Residence (20 mins)

Chair: Dr Nicky Bird, Reader in Contemporary Photographic Practice, Glasgow School of Art

Geoff Broadway is an artist, producer and project manager who works with photography, the moving image and sound. He spent over six years teaching media, design and interactive technologies at several universities including Sunderland, Auckland and Derby, before dedicating himself full-time to his practice. He has undertaken numerous national and international residencies including Durham Cathedral, Teesside University, Jubilee Arts, and the Medialab-Prado, Madrid. His work explores the intersection between memory, experience and identity, and his projects have been exhibited worldwide including Germany, Taiwan, the United States, Switzerland, Spain and New Zealand. He is currently leading the National Lottery Heritage Fund and ACE-funded Living Memory Project that explores and celebrates life stories and photography collections across the Black Country. At this event Geoff will be speaking about his management of the Living Memory Project

Caroline Molloy is Programme Leader in Fine Art and Photography at UCA Farnham, alongside of which she is at the final stage of her practice led PhD at the Centre of Photography History and Theory, Birkbeck, University of London. Her research interests are centred around photography and its relationship to visual culture. She has a particular interest in raising the visibility of the marginalised voice, whether that be through activating archives or a post-colonial discourse. She has presented her work at a number of national and international conferences and has recently exhibited her work at JAIPURphoto, Arles Photo Festival. In addition, she regularly writes for Visual Studies, the Journal of Visual practice, 1000words magazine, Source and Photomonitor. At this event Caroline will be speaking about her film ‘Women of Walsall’, which came out of her Bursary Artist Residency with the Living Memory project in Walsall.

Harmeet Chagger-Khan is an artist, filmmaker and creative producer producing site-specific projects with a diverse range of individuals to harness their polymathic qualities and create subtle behaviour change within communities, organisations and cities. As a BOM (Birmingham Open Media) Fellow and Resident at Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol, she is currently exploring how technology, locative storytelling, immersive media, live art and theatre can create antidotes to life. As an Immersion Fellow for the South West Creative Technology Network her research and practice is currently centred around cultivating resilience and belonging through immersive technologies in real-world environments. In her presentation she will be speaking about her work with the Women of Wolverhampton group at Newhampton Arts Centre, where she was a Living Memory Artist and created the ‘The Unnamed City’ – a series of interactive audio stories about belonging and identity scattered amongst a 3D installation of a utopian city.