Katharine, whose work is exhibited nationally and internationally, has joined the School of Design and Creative Arts (SDCA) as a Doctoral Prize Fellow and will be using her research to create ‘The Fur Chest’.
The film, which is a collaboration with the Museum of Home, will explore the complex dynamics between three generations of caregiving mothers and bedridden daughters, with a focus on illness.
Whether each daughter is truly ill, beset by a phantom illness, or subject to her mother’s control is open to shifting interpretation. Their focus is on the daughter’s feet as a metaphor for developing or restricting autonomy.
The film – which seeks balance and fairness in its portrayal of mothers and daughters struggling for agency and identity within their family system – will see Katharine work closely with the Storytelling Academy, the Animation Academy, and a variety of doctoral research groups focused on home and feminism.
She will conduct an auto-ethnography of her own childhood experience of illness, host family systems workshops, and undertake historic collections research.
The film will be shot at the Museum of Home’s Almshouse and its collections will be used to devise non-verbal interactions – a means of conveying complex emotions and ideas that are difficult to articulate through words.
The Fur Chest will also feature stop-motion animation, which features in Katharine’s previous films, including 2022’s When I’m with you, which premiered at the Barbican Centre.
Of joining the university and the upcoming film, Katharine said: “I’m thrilled to join the SDCA as a Doctoral Prize Fellow with two years to research and develop The Fur Chest, combining multiple strands of research across auto-ethnography, heritage and historic archives, and family systems theory.
“I’m very excited to connect Loughborough University with the Museum of the Home and to bring together academic and heritage stakeholders with huge potential for public engagement programmes.
“The Fur Chest is a really ambitious work for me. It continues my investigation into how women’s identities are shaped by the physical and social structures that contain them. I’m interested in family systems, in behaviours that repeat across generations, from epigenetic trauma to catching yourself using your parents’ words.
“My characters are containers of memories and feelings that don’t belong to them. As each daughter becomes a mother, we see a dysfunctional dynamic being transmitted and transformed across generations, and watch as a chain of containers is made, and ultimately broken.
“It feels like a rich and urgent project with the potential to speak to a broad audience.”
Professor Cees de Bont, Dean of the SCDA, commented: “In the School of Design and Creative Arts we are delighted that the artistic genius Katharine Fry will expand our creative base to inspire wide audiences on the highly sensitive topic of trauma and family relationships.”
The Fur Chest is expected to air in summer 2024. More information on the film and the collaborative project can be found on the Museum of Home webpages.