Studio 17: Souvenir

Dr Lesley Stevenson

This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts (postcards / photographs / war memorials / landscapes / gardens / tourist trophies / Victorian hair jewellery / mementos / family heirlooms / eBay bargains), and seeks to address the gaps between those private, small objects – the ephemera of everyday life which are often associated with the intimate spaces of the body – and the grander projects of the public body, often artefacts of enduring commemoration. Souvenirs are both traces of highly personal experiences and part of a growing nostalgia industry that is fed by the acts and artefacts of collective remembering.

Suggested reading

  • Barthes, R. (2000) Camera Lucida, London: Vintage Classics.
  • Batchen, G. (2004) ‘Ere the substance fade: photography and hair jewellery’ in Edwards, E. & Hart, J. Photographs, objects, histories: on the materiality of images, London: Routledge.
  • Baudrillard, J. (1996) The System of objects, London: Verso.
  • Hirsch, M. (2012) Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Post-Memory, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.
  • Kuhn, A. (2002) Family Secrets: Acts of Memory and Imagination, London: Verso.
  • Kwint, M., Breward, C. and Aynsley, J. (eds) (1999) Material memories: design and evocation, Oxford: Berg.
  • Nora, P. (1989) ‘Between memory and history: Les Lieux de mémoire’, Representations, 26: 7-25.
  • Shapton, L. (2009) Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Leonore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion and jewelry, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Stewart, S. (1993) On longing, Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Films to watch

  • Terence Davies (dir.) Of time and the city, 2008.
  • Grant Gee (dir.) Innocence of memories, 2015.

Studio image by Lesley Stevenson. Banner: Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence (3), video still (detail), 2019

Souvenir – Lesley Stevenson


Tutor Lesley Stevenson


Dissertation Studios 2020–21