The Family Silver comprises forty-two amateur British family colour slides from the fifties to the seventies, selected from Michael Collins’ collection and accompanied by his essay, celebrating and examining the devotional picture quality of this form of photography.
Each of these family slides is a biography written in the vernacular. From the fidelity of the badly framed to the awkwardness of exposed self-consciousness, they bear the evocative authenticity of oral history. What makes them so compelling is their unassuming nature. To engage with these pictures sensitively and introspectively is to enter into a bond with them; by admitting us into the past of these other families, they lead us back to ours. These pictures are genuinely real and gently dreamlike. Like the sound of leather heels on pavements, their colours are from another period. They are more naive, more impressionable; they elicit a nostalgic response and conjure a homesickness for the land of the past, and then they question it. They are both vivid and vague, part spectacle, part spectre, mirroring the fading of time and memory.