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The Photo Film Club #013 – TISH

Posted on Jan 26, 2024 by in Events

Tuesday 27th February

7pm (doors 6.30pm)

THE PHOTO FILM CLUB hosts a photography-based film or documentary roughly every 4-6 weeks in the wonderful Theatr Colwyn, the UK’s oldest working cinema, which also happens to be the oldest working theatre in Wales and home of Oriel Colwyn.

Our 13th Photo Film Club event is on TUESDAY 27th FEBRUARY at 7pm (doors 6.30pm) when we will be hosting a special ONE NIGHT ONLY screening of TISH.

Ohh… and one last thing, it is not really a club, we just liked the name… It’s not exclusive, you don’t have to join and everyone is welcome!

Photo Film Club #013


Dir. Paul Sng / Cert (15)


7pm (doors 6.30pm)

£6 in advance / £8 on the day

Tish Murtha’s photography of people on the margins of society in Thatcher’s Britain challenged inequality, yet she was unable to escape the poverty she documented and died aged 56, her work relatively unknown. TISH follows her daughter revisiting key images and moments in her mother’s life to establish her legacy.

As a working class photographer from the North East, Tish felt an obligation to the people and problems within her local environment, and used documentary photography to highlight and challenge the social disadvantages she herself suffered. Unlike many social documentary photographers, Tish was from the same streets as the people she photographed, lending a poignant intimacy to her stark yet tender black and white images. However, despite early acclaim for her work, she was unable to make a living from photography and was unable to escape the poverty she documented. She died aged 56, her work relatively unknown.

Karen On Overturned Chair, Youth Unemployment (1981) – Tish Murtha (c) Ella Murtha, all rights reserved.

Tish’s brilliant eye, her unswerving ethics and constant empathy are present in her images, yet little is known of the artist herself. In this feature documentary we follow Tish’s daughter, Ella, as she opens up her mother’s archive for the first time on screen to reveal a treasure trove of unseen images, artefacts, letters and diaries. Ella takes to the road to meet people who knew Tish and ask why she did not receive more recognition in her lifetime.

In digging into the past, Ella comes to terms with her own grief at her mother’s passing and reconnects with family members not seen in years. By shining a light on a working class artist who went largely unrecognised in her lifetime, the documentary questions the value placed on working class people both in the past and present day.

Kids Jumping On To Mattresses – Youth Unemployment (1981) Tish Murtha (c) Ella Murtha, all rights reserved.

“Tish Murtha, who lived a life as tough as those she shot in different eras of deprivation and marginalisation, receives a wholehearted and riveting tribute” The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw

“Details leap out from the photographs, not just the faces of those she captured, but the twist of cigarette smoke, metal ashtrays recalling the tang of wet ash, plasters on scrubbed knees” Eye for Film

“An authentic insight into the devastating impact of unemployment and poverty” Screen International

“Paul Sng’s intimate documentary resurrects a fleeting art radical, honouring her incisive political views as well as her photographs”  Sight and Sound

Advance Tickets for the screening are priced at £6 (£8 on the day)

Our aim is to keep the tickets prices for the film screenings as low as we possibly can to open up the screening for more people… BUT… we do need to cover the cost of the film screening in the cinema, SO…  If you are in the position to help out a little more, please do consider making an extra donation to Oriel Colwyn at checkout.

We gratefully acknowledge Ffilm Cymru Wales for supporting our regular Photo Film Club screenings.