© Ella Murtha
I would wake up to the smell of chemicals regularly because my mam had been pulling an all-nighter developing pictures while I slept and makeshift washing lines were strung up allover the house with these amazing black and white images hanging from them. There was this one day we were going to the town and were followed by a very creepy glue sniffer, he followed us for ages, stopping to sit on a bench next to an old man who looked like a cross between Captain Birdseye and Santa - my mam took their photo. That night she took me into the spare room which doubled as the darkroom and we developed that picture together. It was like magic seeing the image appear on the paper out of nowhere. I can't have been more than 5 but never forgot it.
Tish was definitely one of a kind; as I grew older I began to realise how lucky I was to have had such a "different" mam who encouraged me to be as creative as possible, always be myself, and literally sacrificed absolutely everything for me.
The Official Website of Tish Murtha
- managed by her daughter Ella -
© Ella Murtha
My childhood was not what you would call "conventional" but it was filled with fun, laughter, music, photography and creativity. I used to wish I had a "normal" mam who wore nice dresses and shopped at Marks and Spencer, instead of having short spiky hair and baseball boots - but the idea of that horrifies me now!
For as long as I can remember my mam always had her camera around her neck, it went everywhere with her, like it was a part of her. She loved to develop her stuff, it was an art-form.
Me and my Mam
Since her death I have made it my mission to get her work the recognition it deserves and the project to archive her work was born.
I have made a book of the "Youth Unemployment" series using the many notes that I have inherited to make it exactly as Tish would have wanted and a major retrospective exhibition from across the Archive is now open at The Photographers Gallery in London.
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