F.M.P. WEEK 3.



Project Description

1. from ADE & EVAM sequence.
James Bellorini, February 2020.

Familiar, is an exploration of belonging in mixed-heritage and cross-cultural people resident in England. The project is as much an attempt to answer questions about my own experience of being mixed-heritage as it is about the people I am collaborating with, and I see it as part of a longer-term body of work.

Familiar is primarily a portrait project. However, in Why Art Photography? Lucy Soutter discusses portraiture as ‘oscillating back and forth between notions of fixed and fractured identities… constructed and performed before our very eyes.’ (Soutter, 2018. p.18). So, Familiar seeks to ride the oscillation Soutter describes by using combined genres and constructed narratives to build a body of work that explores hybridity, fracture, and otherness. Indeed, I chose Familiar as the title because of its plurality of relevant meanings:

  • Well-known from a long or close association.
  • Intimate.
  • A spirit or guiding presence.
  • There is the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ which, in the context of the motivations behind this project, is highly pertinent.
  • Finally, it shares its root with the word ‘family’.


2. from COHERE – presented for Refugee Week 2019.
James Bellorini, March 2019.

In Positions and Practices, I submitted a project proposal that formed the basis for the development of my M.A. thinking and practice throughout the last eighteen months. That proposal originated in the effect of the EU Referendum on cross-culture and mixed-heritage people in the UK (I myself am Anglo-Italian). Racial abuse became overt. People grew afraid. I saw my community fracturing. Friends I had known for years wondered if they belonged in the country anymore.

Concurrent with external events, the ‘umbilical’ connection to another heritage (whether through birthplace, migration, genetics, or a combination of all) frequently feels unresolved and raises many questions about belonging: What does it mean? What does it look or feel like? Is it a real possibility or frequently, as seems to be the case, something mercurial or just out of reach? Allied to that, my research shows that the cross-cultural experience often feels as if it sits somewhere between reality and fiction. It is one of being ‘raised in a neither/nor world… neither fully the world of their parents’ culture (or cultures) nor fully the world of the other culture (or cultures) in which they were raised’ (Pollock, Van Reken, Pollock. 2017, pg 4). This interstitial experience has formed the backbone of my M.A. practice and is what I want to explore further in my FMP.

Critical Context

Zanele Muholi 2015.

Familiar sits in relation to work by practitioners such as Zanele Muholi, Tomoko Sawada, and Christian Thompson. These practitioners use portraiture to explore identity in relation to history, culture, geography, status, and autobiography. The element of the performative in their work is something I have carried forward in my own practice. Familiar also contains conceptual resonances with the constructed realities of, for example, Jeff Wall, Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood, and Marysa Dowling’s project Blue Bag. Dowling presents a blue plastic bag as a unifying symbol across a series of portraits which results in a body of work that provides an ‘umbilical’ connection to global identity, place, and heritage. 

4. Blue Bag, Ekanas Finland.
Marysa Dowling 2016.

Project Output

Familiar will be an installation-style presentation showing photographic work alongside related elements such as interviews, sound loops, objects, and archival material.

Open Eye Gallery 2017. Image: Adam Murray.
6. from 1822-Now.
Zarina Bhimki 1995.

It is my intention to present Familiar at Brighton Photo Fringe (BPF) in October 2020. However, with the social changes enforced by Covid-19, the organizers of BPF are presenting the festival online. Alternative approaches are now pertinent. As a result, I have been considering interactive virtual forms of presentation through platforms such as: https://www.artsteps.com/.  Examples are already populating gallery websites, such as this current exhibition at Open Eye: https://openeye.org.uk/whatson/vr-wake-up-together-ren-hang-where-love-is-illegal/

7. Screenshot of title image for Open Eye Gallery VR Exhibit.
Open Eye Gallery 2020.


June 2020

  1. Recorded discussions/interviews (audio and video) with an eye to bringing those directly into the project. Much of my work-in-progress across the modules has been based on collaborations with participants – including ongoing ‘informal’ discussions informing the photographic work: teasing out memories and anecdotes, finding symbols and objects that have relative meaning, and exchanging personal responses to life events. I want to ‘formalize’ this approach in the FMP so that voices go beyond the photographic in the final output.
  2. ‘Advertising’ for further potential collaborators – currently I am working with 7 people but would like to get this up to 10. I will reach out through my networks and local cultural organizations for additional participants. 
  3. Formalize contributor consent.
  4. Brighton Photo Fringe (BPF) – discussions with Claire Wearn (Producer) about ‘exhibiting’ Familiar. The festival opens on the 3rd of October and I am aiming to present in the latter part of the festival.
  5. Develop relationships with relevant organizations such as the Museum of Migration, Autograph, and similar. Initial email contact was made earlier in the year, but Covid-19 stopped the discussion, so it is time to pick that up again with an eye to disseminating the work.
  6. Project-specific website. Building and development of project website presenting Familiar in combination with other material – reflecting the installation approach. Bring works-in-progress, CRJ, and background materials into this so the entire project has a single online ‘home’ that will be regularly updated throughout this timeline.
  7. Ongoing CRJ writing etc.
  8. Ongoing documentation of process.

 July 2020

  1. Project photography and practice-led research.
  2. Virtual (VR) Installation. Researching the viability of building and presenting a virtual installation for BPF.
  3. Ongoing recorded discussions/interviews.
  4. Ongoing related research.
  5. Ongoing CRJ writing.
  6. Ongoing documentation of process.

August 2020

  1. Ongoing project photography and practice-led research.
  2. Zine – Produce a small printed taster ‘zine’ in advance of the launch of the virtual exhibition/online presence. It would include a selection of images, links, dates, info, etc. to create interest in the BPF launch.
  3. Folio submissions to relevant publications: Point.51, Huck, Aint-Bad, GUP.
  4. Finish all recorded discussions/interviews.
  5. Ongoing BPF discussion/liaison – marketing, exhibition timelines, etc.
  6. Ongoing CRJ writing etc.
  7. Ongoing documentation of process.

September 2020

  1. All main project photography completed by early-September.
  2. Image curation starts mid-September (with Idil Bozkurt – curator).
  3. Editing of recorded project interview/discussions.
  4. Project website finalized in prep for ‘installation’ going live.
  5. Media/press marketing – national media outlets such as BBC, The Guardian, etc.
  6. Social media – leverage my solid social media presence with a teaser campaign for exhibition launch.
  7. Ongoing documentation of process.

October 2020

  1. Media/press marketing – local: Radio Reverb (local radio), The Argus newspaper and link up with BPF directed media opportunities.
  2. BPF Exhibit Launch – to start 3rd or 4th week of the festival (tbc).
  3. Launch ‘party’, presentations, discussion groups, etc. supported by BPF (online and, if possible, physically in person), with contributions from project participants.
  4. Exhibit/project talks and related workshops – especially keen to open this up to people of all mixed-heritage backgrounds to examine the experiences portrayed in the project. Facilitate a photographic workshop that examines belonging in the context of heritage and place.
  5. Document learning outcomes, etc. of the launch and installation reception.
  6. Ongoing social media and other marketing.

November 2020

  1. Installation/exhibit finishes.
  2. Installation/exhibit debrief.
  3. Quantify learning outcomes and reflect in CRP etc.
  4. Collate all relevant information, documentation and reflect in CRJ & CRP.
  5. 20th November: submission of Critical Review of Practice.

December 2020

  1. 11th December: submission of FMP pdf.
  2. 11th December: submission of CRJ
James Bellorini, December 2019.

Ethical Awareness

There are several ethical considerations that I have been cognizant of throughout the project to date. For the FMP these include:

  • Consent – written consent from all participants to cover the photographic aspects and the use of audio and video recordings, artefacts etc. I use Royal Photographic Society and AOP consent forms in my professional practice and will use these in the FMP.
  • Health considerations – a few of the project participants have underlying conditions. I have put in place strategies to manage all photography and contact safely, enacting guidance from the AOP (see Risk Assessment) into my working practices.
  • There may be case-by-case concerns about the use of personal, historical, and familial information. These can occur in either my personal and commercial practices, so I have high working standards that ensure people I work with receive the utmost respect and discretion toward their privacy and depth of engagement. I have extensive professional experience and strategies (including GDPR) in place to deal with any issue that might arise. 



Pollock, D; Pollock, M; Reken, R van. (Ed). 1999. Third Culture Kids. 3rd edn. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Soutter, L. 2013. Why Art Photography? 2nd  edn. Oxford: Routledge.


Harris, C. 2020. ‘We Are Here And We Will Be Counted’. The RPS Journal Volume 160, April. Article/interview with Zanele Muholi.

Online Articles & Videos

Lensculture. Brave Beauties: Zanele Muholi on Self-Portraiture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/zanele-muholi-brave-beauties-zanele-muholi-on-self-portraiture

Louisiana Channel. 2015. Jeff Wall Interview: We Are All Actors. [Interview]. Available at:  https://youtu.be/B8P9S6FeAuU

SFMOMA. 2018. Tomoko Sawada’s portraits create familiar characters. [Exhibition interview]. Available at: https://youtu.be/ZIk8YzMj_Yw

TransformerStation. 2014. Christian Patterson Talks About Redheaded Peckerwood. [Exhibition Interview]. Available at: https://youtu.be/VEREs7PRcik

Troika Editions. 2012. Artist Christian Thompson at the Pitt Rivers Museum. Available at: https://youtu.be/4EYg8lWqbjg

Wikipedia. Zanele Muholi. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanele_Muholi


Artsteps. Available at: https://www.artsteps.com/

Brighton Photo Fringe. Available at: https://www.photofringe.org/

Christian Patterson. Available at: http://www.christianpatterson.com/redheaded-peckerwood/#1

Christian Thompson. Available at: https://www.christianthompson.net/

Gagosian Gallery. Jeff Wall. Available at: https://gagosian.com/artists/jeff-wall/

Marysa Dowling. Blue Bag. Available at: http://www.marysadowling.co.uk/albums/the-movement-of-an-object/

Open Eye Gallery VR. Available here: https://openeye.org.uk/whatson/vr-wake-up-together-ren-hang-where-love-is-illegal/

Rose Gallery. Tomoko Sawada. Available at: http://www.rosegallery.net/tomokosawada