September 2013: Nicky Bird

Photographing the Erased Home

This TalkSeePhotography saw Nicky Bird present and discuss the perspectives of regeneration and economic decline versus memory and the significance of personal and community connections to physical spaces that has been subject to erasure. Her presentation was a visual journey, that moved through a range of photographic approaches – archaeological, archival, amateur and professional – that were used to trace the location of, places that once were, home.


Bird brings ambivalence about memory and ‘belonging’ by returning with her collaborators to the sites of the lost home. Focusing in specific on the kinds of housing, and industries that have disappeared, which are largely associated with British working class communities, to which photography has a particularly fraught history her project raises questions: How can collaborative practices, involving lens-based artists and community, productively engage with the questions raised by personal stories, social histories and photography’s own politics that lie in these places? What can the conversations bring to future urban displacement and planning? How do we deal with memory and is it possible to make nostalgia politically powerful?

Nicky Bird is an artist whose work investigates the contemporary relevance of found photographs, their archives and specific sites. She has explored this through photography, bookworks, and the Internet, creating artworks that make visible the process of collaboration with people who have significant connections to a hidden history.

Her use of photography is in the widest sense, shifting from finding family photographs on eBay to working with local press photographs, along with oral reminiscence and archaeological methods. Alongside commissions, residencies, exhibitions, and writings on photography, Nicky is a PhD Co-Coordinator at The Graduate School in the Glasgow School of Art and she was one of my very appreciated supervisors.