Tag Archives: family albums

Second thoughts for assignment 2

Another week has passed and to all appearances, I have not progressed any further with my idea of considering the stories that particular family photos don’t show, so I have decided to put it on the backburner for now. I may revisit it in one of the later assignments.

On the other hand, after numerous pop-up experiments which did not have the right connotations for me and some of which are shown below,

I have settled on a firm idea for this assignment, which will be looking at those tropes which are the backbone of the family album. You know the sort of thing – births, Christenings, marriages, trips to the beach etc.; all the high days and holidays that we record and preserve for future viewing. Erik Kessels (2013) in The Vanishing Art of the Photo Album argues that most family albums consist of  about eight volumes, with the following subjects:

  1. when a couple first meet
  2. the marriage
  3. the first year of the first child
  4. general family life
  5. general family life
  6. general family life
  7. general family life
  8. when the kids have left home (lots of holidays in this one)

I will go into the cultural theory of the family photography album in another post, but for now I am looking at the practical side of the assignment. A recent purchase from the wonderful £3 Book Store in Bristol was Helen Heibert’s (2014) Playing with Pop-ups: The Art of Dimensional, Moving Paper Designs, and in it I found a template for a volvelle, as well as several artists who work with 3D paper designs and photographs. The volvelle (a word I had not previously come across) is something we are all familiar with from our childhoods, and I have seen one more recently as a colour wheel. It is a rotating paper mechanism which was originally used to make astronomical calculations. From the point of view of my assignment, it has several specific advantages, notably,

  • it continues with my theme of circles (circle of life)
  • it bears a strong resemblance to a camera shutter when in use
  • it hides and reveals, allowing more than one image to be shown as part of the same piece.

I have made a couple of test pieces, which are shown below, and the plan is to put images from my family’s legacy of albums on specific subjects behind the leaves. A series of about six will be produced, and bound into a small album style book. It will all be accompanied by a video, as part of the work is changing the image on each volvelle. And while all this is going on, I need to do the post that my tutor suggested after A1 on the symbolism of the circle, as it is relevant to this as well.


Clark, Tim (2013) ‘The Vanishing Art of the Photo Album’ [online] in time.com At:  http://time.com/3801986/the-vanishing-art-of-the-family-photo-album/ (Accessed on 15 November 2018)

Heibert, Helen (2014) Playing with Pop-ups: The Art of Dimensional, Moving Paper Designs. Beverley, MA:Quarry Books.



First thoughts for assignment 2

1991.8 Disney Florida-04v2

Disneyworld Florida, 1991

I am fortunate enough to have quite a large collection of family albums, going back to the early 1900s, so there is quite a bit of scope for this assignment. While doing the reading for the part of the course, I have been trying to learn the basics of paper sculpture, through this excellent Youtube series by Duncan Birmingham. Spatial awareness is not one of my fortés (I always do appallingly in those sections of psychometric tests), and so there is a lot of trial and error (lots of error) involved.

So my plan is to produce a series of pop-ups, possibly in a carousel format, to consider the family events which are the staple of family albums – births, holidays, Christmas, weddings etc. and using a mixture of album images from across the last 120 years.
I have another idea floating around too, but it hasn’t yet crystallised into something I can work with – all those events which are not recorded in the family album, but which certain images remind us of. Just to give an example, one of my albums has a series of happy holiday images from a visit to DisneyWorld in Florida (see image above). What is apparent nowhere in this series is the miscarriage I had while there, my subsequent visit to parts of the adventure park that nobody usually sees and my stay in the emergency room at Orlando Hospital. Every time I look at those images, I remember the miscarriage, but it is entirely absent from the visual record. I would like to delve into this at some point during the module, and look at why we don’t record the bad and sad family events that are often the real defining moments of our lives.