The genesis of a future photographic body of work often emerges, tantalisingly, in the mid stream of the working process.
And in 2001, while creating Twentytwo – a portrayal of her parents and their home – Trish Morrissey made the first photograph for Seven Years, of which — images are shown here. Morrissey’s impetus for this new direction was born out of the discussions and remembrances that her Twentytwo project catalysed within her family. A box of photographs (into which her parents added their Twentytwo portraits) became a focal point for shared, disputed and reinvented memories of her family’s history.
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For all of us, our snaps can be the compelling mediators of the re-appraisal of identities and familial relationships. Seven Years became Morrissey’s attempt, in collaboration with her elder sister, to make the subject of these photographs the subtexts of family relationships that are embedded in the formulas of family photographs. To think of Seven Years as a re-staging of specific family photographs is inaccurate, or at least only part of the ingredients to these distilled ‘family’ photographs. Seven Years succeeds so well because of a fine balance that is struck between Morrissey’s gleaning from her family’s box of snaps their particular resonance and the close study that she has made of found photographs and friends’ albums. This bridging between Morrissey’s own family experiences and the meaning of the common tropes of domestic photography is present in other ways. In terms of preparation, for instance, the props and clothing used in Seven Years are a combination of items retrieved from her parents’ attic and the second-hand items she collected for the staging of each photograph. On a more fundamental level, Morrissey combined her family’s relationships, gleaned from the gestures in photographs with the creation of generically understood domestic groupings of couples and siblings. These simultaneously personal and shared family dynamics are enacted by Trish Morrissey and her elder sister, once again adding to the layering in these fascinating images of the reality and fiction of domestic photography. [/ms-protect-content]
Published in Photoworks Issue 1, 2004
Commissioned by Photoworks