In the Family

By Jo Phillips

When we explore the idea of family images it’s not something we think of necessarily as an art form. We may think of the cringe moments made to wear some gross outfit the parent leading the charge insisted on or have that horrid hair brush pulled through your unruly hair. Or may be those moments that you didn’t notice until the flash went off of a parents intrusion in to your moment. Family images are just that, images of us. Yet they are the most amazing record of the flow of one generations to the next, and one life flowing form child to youth ot adult and become often far more precious when some have left this world. But when did we ever stop and think of this precious images filled with so much love and emotion and think of them as works of art? Find out more Here In The Family.

Image on left ‘From Family Photographs, by Joan Albert

Over the years there have been some very important photographic artworks created within this genre, ones that captures a realism and authenticity that can never be staged. Many were never given the credit they deserved as legitimate works of art. Possibly because in many ways the ease of which anyone can produce a family ‘snap’, but also possibly because many women where the ones that created them.

‘From Family Photographs, by Joan Albert

Some of these women were certainly not appreciated in their day, but in hindsight their importance has become clear. Meet one particular women who work ended up in the Museum of Modern Art New York.

Joan Albert, 1943-2012, created a remarkable body of work over a short period of time from the 1970s through the early 1990s in Massachusetts. Her primary subject was her children at home in Cambridge, a project she began after she lost one son in an accident.

This sends a slight shiver down ones spine when one regards her work, almost pathological in a way to never loose another moment and may be that is why her work is so intensely personal, emotionally driven and certainly very intimate which is where the very power of her images come from.

‘From Family Photographs, by Joan Albert

Eventually her works were included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Harvard Art Museums. In 2014, two years after her death, Albert was included in a Time Magazine article about under-appreciated photographers from the Northeast United States.

‘From Family Photographs, by Joan Albert

It is said of her images they are intimate photographs of her growing sons filled with emotion, humour, and the obsessions of teenage and pre-teenage boys of at the tail end of the last century.

‘From Family Photographs, by Joan Albert

Alberts 4 x 5” view camera portraits of her parents, friends and neighbours with their children are similarly poignant and richly detailed, showing the complexity and intensity of parent-child relationships.

A new book, edited by the American artist Sage Sohier and with hand painted typography by Tamara Shopsin, is the first time that Albert’s beautiful and compassionate work can be viewed in its entirety.

Not just a visual practice the idea of recording the ‘typical American Kid’ could be explored via music, film or words. Think of some of the great American novels that deal so perfectly with the ideas of The Rites of Passage, like Catcher in the Rye or even films like The Outsiders or what about a piece of music?

The cinematic nature of Michael Head’s songwriting comes flickering to the fore in American Kid, the latest track to be released from the critically-acclaimed album, Dear Scott.

With words, pictures and melody pouring readily from the mind of an artist repeatedly revered as ‘Britain’s greatest living songwriter’, the newest cut from Head’s forthcoming long-player with The Red Elastic Band, released on Fri 3 June 2022 an irresistible story set on the winding roads of obsession, adulthood and friendship.

Head’s lyrics follow the path of both fantastical and relatable narrator throughout Dear Scott, an album named in reference to F. Scott Fitzgerald and the golden age of Hollywood’s opium and alcohol-addicted storytellers.

Concerning two best friends growing up together in Liverpool, one who’s head is in the dust and spilt rye whiskey of the Wild West, the tightly bound duo overcome distance and divergent paths as life progresses, only to end up closer than ever as adulthood takes hold.
He says of the works

 American Kid is about two best friends growing up in Kirby, Liverpool. They were in the same class at school, the same Sunday League football team and are inseparable. Todd’s going away to university and Eddie is off to finish drama school, then astonish Broadway. Eddie’s been brought up in a household of Americana, old movies and western-themed soap operas from the 60s like Bonanza, The High Chaparral and The Big Valley. The equivalent of Emmerdale only with Stetsons and guns. He says things like “shucks” and doesn’t think about tipping his imaginary Stetson to lollipop ladies saying something like “thank you kindly ma’am” in a Louisiana accent.

Head and The Red Elastic Band look ahead together to their first comprehensive UK Tour since forming in 2021, setting off on the eve of Dear Scott’s release to play run of eight dates.
Wed 1 June – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
Thu 2 June – Newcastle, The Cluny
Fri 3 June – Glasgow, St Luke’s
Sat 4 June – Manchester, Gorilla
Wed 8 June – Bristol, Thekla
Thu 9 June – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
Fri 10 June – Liverpool, Eventim Olympia
Sat 11 June – London, o2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Remaining tickets


If you enjoyed In The Family why not read Beauty In Plain Sight Here

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