Katy Shepherd

films

Family, Memories & Loss

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MOTHER DRAWN FROM MY MEMORY

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2016 dur 49 secs

2016 was the twentieth anniversary of my mother's death. I decided to make an animation of her by repeatedly drawing her from memory using no photographic, film or other forms of reference. I thought if I drew her enough times the sum of all the pictures would recreate the essence of her. As I worked on the project it became obvious the images appearing depicted her at different times in her life and often as a much younger woman than when I'd seen her last. Over time I realised that I was not sure if I was remembering her from life or from family photographs I'd kept and viewed over the years.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

FATHER DRAWN FROM MY MEMORY

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2021 dur 26 secs

There is a drawing on my studio wall that I have been working on intermittently for a few years. It started life as a mono print of my father, drawn from my memory. But finding the print unsatisfactory I continued to work on it with pastels, pencils, and graphite. Without referencing a photograph, I had no idea if any of the versions were getting close to a likeness. It’s more about how I felt he was.
In 2021, twenty years after his death, I decided to make an animation. I had photographed many of the attempts on my phone and used them to create a film. There is no progression towards an image that looks most like him - just many attempts to find him.
The sound was sourced from a micro cassette recording I made of him recalling his life during WW11 as a very young man.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

MY MOTHER'S CHAIR

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2021 dur 27 secs

Shortly after the death of my mother in 1996 I took a number of photographs of the family home, to make a record of the rooms as she had left them. During a lockdown in 2021 I decided to revisit the photographs and photoshopped myself into her armchair as a way of seeking comfort and security during a difficult time.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

FILM

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2001 dur 3 mins 24 secs

"Film" was commissioned by the "Animate" scheme 2001 and Channel 4. The sources for the film are four snap shots from our family album, recording moments of my childhood in the 1960's. Each photograph was manipulated to create the frames of the animation. For the commission proposal I wrote “I want to wring as much as possible out of those moments, squeezing every drop of information out of them. In the case of my mother, I am animating a lost parent, for me it is a type of resurrection. Fuzzy memory, technology and the 30 year old photograph helping and hindering me at the same time.”
My mother died in 1996 and my father died of motor neurone disease two days after I delivered the finished film. Whilst he was in the hospital I showed him the progress of the animation, in particular the black and white sequence of him and myself sat by the living room window.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

HARBOUR

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1998 26secs

This animation was created for the “Videospin Project” at the Photographers Gallery, London. It was made using a single photograph from the family album which shows my mother with two friends, myself and my sister (in life jackets) struggling along a shingle beach by the edge of Poole Harbour.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

HOME MOVIE

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1998 dur 16 secs loop

The photograph, from which the animation was formed, shows myself as a baby on my mother’s knee. The scene is viewed through the eyes of my father, who took the snap. I feel his presence when looking at the image. The film, made following her death in 1996, felt like a tribute to her. At the time of the picture (1961) she was 35, the same age I was when she died. This was the first animation to become a part of my “Home Movies” project for the web which was supported by Westminster Arts Council and the London Arts Board. On the website it was designed to loop infinitely.

This is an abridged version of the text that appeared on the Home Movies website (1998):-

“The home movies are five animations created digitally from five photographs. These snaps belong to my family photograph collection. We have a box of family snaps stretching over 60 years, it contains pictures of grandparents and relatives that I don’t remember or didn’t know. We were continually adding to the collection but after my mother’s death, how I felt about the photograph box changed. There had always been something open ended about this family archive and suddenly it contained the last photograph ever taken of my mother and probably the first as well. She belonged to the first generation in my family for whom it became commonplace for photographs to be taken throughout her life. It seems to me that when you look at a photo you bring a lot of your own needs and memories to the reading of the image and that over the years, as your life moves on, these change. The result is a sort of chinese whispers effect. The image evolves with you. Roland Barthes wrote ‘In this glum desert, suddenly a specific photograph reaches me, and I animate it. So that is how I must name the attraction that makes it exist: an animation. The photograph itself is in no way animated (I do not believe in lifelike photographs), but it animates me: this is what creates every adventure.’ ”

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

PAT SWIMMING

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1998 dur 1 min 23 secs loop

This is the second film from the "Home Movies" website. The animation was created using a photograph taken of my mother as a young woman. Relaxed, eyes shut, staying afloat, she is in her own world. This was my mother before I knew her. The “Home Movies" project for the web was supported by Westminster Arts Council and the London Arts Board. On the website the film was designed to loop infinitely.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

THE LIVING ROOM

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1998 5 mins 12 secs

I took photographs of my mother’s house shortly after her death in 1996, it was just as she left it. This was the house where I’d grown up. A couple of years later I filmed the photo I had taken of the living room using a videocam. I edited the film in a way that made it look like the film had been taken by someone standing in the room. It was an attempt to breathe life into the snapshot. A type of reanimation.
"The Living Room" became part of my “Home Movies” project for the web which was supported by Westminster Arts Council and the London Arts Board. On the website it was designed to loop infinitely.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd

LAST

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1998 dur 2 mins 38 secs

“Last” is the final film that was contained within the “Home Movies” project for the web. The image used as the source for the animation was a snapshot, which I believe to be the last photograph ever taken of my mother. It shows her smiling and happy with her grandchildren on a sunny spring day waiting for the picture to be taken. I returned to the house to record exterior sounds with a camcorder. The film was designed to loop infinitely on the web.

Copyright © 2004 Katy Shepherd
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