Artist and filmmaker Katharine Fry

Renowned artist and filmmaker joins Loughborough University to research inherited trauma for upcoming film

Artist and filmmaker Katharine Fry has joined Loughborough University to embark on a unique research project exploring how trauma is inherited through family systems for her next film.

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

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 23/62

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2023 and 11th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.