1.4 Archival intervention

Exercise 1.4 Archival intervention

Brief: Look through your own family archive and try to discover a series of portraits (four or five) that have existed within this archive, but have never been placed together before. The portraits can contain individuals or even couples; they may span generations, or just be of the same person throughout the years (chronotype). Whichever way you wish to tackle this exercise, there must be a reason or justification for your choices. What message are you trying to get across about these portraits?

Through doing this exercise, you are physically bringing together portraits that have never been viewed as a series prior to your intervention. Therefore, you need to think really clearly about what your choices are and who you decide to select.

You can either make physical copies of the originals and work with these in your learning log, or re-photograph them digitally (or scan) and post them on your blog. Either way,
your thoughts about these portraits will be the key to this exercise. Try to articulate what
is happening when you bring these images together for the first time. Apart from the obvious – the subject, perhaps – is there anything else that links the imagery together? The location? Dates? Activities?

Write 500–800 words reflecting on this exercise and include it in your learning log or blog.

Exercise 1.4 Archival intervention

Normally I would have raided the family archive on my Drobo hard disc backup but it has died and I don’t have time to research and replace the Drobo for a safe transfer of the disc content. I did however notice some photographs at my daughters home in a small red album and was intrigued as to what images she had chosen ‘stolen’ from our paper archive. I scanned them and reflected on the images and made choices about what to select and write about.

1. Scanned images – Rosie’s album

Exercise A1 Rosies album contacts -1

Exercise A1 Rosies album contacts -2

2. My reading of Rosie’s album

The thing that strikes me most is that these images are largely from her childhood, from camping holidays in France with a lot of images of her sister and ‘mummy.’ There are other family members represented such as my newly born son, me, granddad, and great-grandma.


I think many of our best family holidays have been camping in France and Rosie has a love affair with all things French. She has a french degree and uses it in her work. She now takes her own family on holiday camping in France, perhaps trying to live some of that magic of ‘happy’ holidays.

Rosie and Wendy

I am aware that both of my daughters feel that they have a ‘special relationship,’ so much so that one re-located in the UK to be near her sister. They still see each other often and both have their own families.

3. My selections from this album

Here are my selections;

The most striking thing about the images in this album is those of my wife! I have forgotten how young we both were and how lovely she looked. All of her clothes are home made as were many of mine including my ‘structured’ Vogue pattern jacket; I did draw the line at making socks and underwear.

We are 31 years further on from when most of these images were taken. They speak to me of the lasting nature of our relationship despite difficulty times. They also remind me of that young person that is still inside my head and intentions sometimes as it will be with my wife.

There is another narrative which is that my view of the images of Rosie is related to what is happening now. She is in hospital, and has been for five weeks, with lymphatic cancer. She is likely to be in and out of hospital for months.

e Janet2 (7 of 30)


In this image I see a crying young girl in a car on holiday in France. I fast forward to school, university, work, marriage, child and cancer. Many things have been gained but some of the innocence (not quite the right word) has gone because the present imaged here is now in the past.

I was planning to re-do her portrait but she has not had natural hair for the last year and events have got in the way.

These images also remind me of respite from being tired as a young GP working days and nights in a new practice where I still practice today.