IWD 2021 – Tish Murtha Film Kickstarter

I’ve heard people ask, “What’s the point of street or documentary photography, as surely you’re simply taking a photo of what’s in front of you?” It feels like a clear cut case of the answer being in the question. What’s in front of you is a snapshot of real life, as it is at that exact moment in time, never has been before and never will be again, not exactly. I think often that this style of photography really comes into its own over time, when you can look back at an image and see a similar scene in your memories, when it reminds you of the social, economic and even fashion differences between contrasting groups, and when its accuracy makes you smile.

The most effective social documentary imagery comes when the subjects are comfortable with the photographer and the pictures are natural rather than posed. With a keen eye through the lens and an obvious respect for her community, Tish Murtha leaves a beautiful legacy in her pictures documenting the highs and lows of her north-east working class neighbourhood.

Her daughter, Ella, has taken on the task of ensuring that Tish’s work gets the recognition it absolutely deserves, and is working with producer Jen Corcoran  and director Paul Sng on TISH, a feature length documentary celebrating her work. A Kickstarter campaign for this has just launched with a view to production starting in April; the trailer below will give you an idea of how good this promises to be.

The Kickstarter link is here with details of rewards available including tote bags, premiere tickets and limited edition Tish Murtha photo prints and illustrations. There is more information from the press release below.


‘British photographer Tish Murtha’s images of those on the margins of society challenged and documented the inequality faced by working-class communities, and in equal measures celebrated what it means to be working-class. 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 and undeniable talent, she struggled to make a living from photography and lived in poverty until her death at the age of 56.

Tish’s brilliant eye, unswerving ethics and constant empathy are present in her photographs, yet little is known of the artist herself. In this new feature documentary, Ella sets out to uncover why her mother’s work wasn’t fully appreciated in her lifetime, through unseen archive materials, personal notebooks, correspondence, and interviews with the people who knew her. By digging into the past, will Ella come to terms with her own grief at her mother’s passing?

Ella, who also runs the Tish Murtha Archive, says, “We are living through incredibly divided times, where working-class people have been manipulated, just like the class warfare that my mam warned about in the essay for her exhibition Youth Unemployment. There has never been a more relevant time to go back, meet the people from these photos and really try to understand how their generation were exploited and devalued. I want to make an honest, celebratory film about my mam and her life, and hope it will be moving, tender and also uplifting. I’d like people to know who Tish Murtha was and for her character to jump out of the screen the way her photos do. She was an incredible woman: determined, kind and fierce, but also incredibly sensitive. She had to learn to be tough from a very young age and fight for everything; she was extremely principled, always stood up to bullies and was frequently labelled ‘difficult’. But Tish was a beautiful, simple soul and I wouldn’t want to come from any other womb.”

TISH will be produced by Jen Corcoran through her Teesside-based company Freya Films and Paul Sng’s Velvet Joy Productions.’


Please, if you are able, consider contributing to this project or sharing the link. Tish Murtha was an extraordinarily talented photographer and we’re very happy to be able to include her in our International Women’s Day features. What’s the point of street photography? Take a look at the Tish Murtha website here for your answer, and follow the film’s progress on Twitter and Instagram.

Words by Siobhan (excluding press release excerpt)

The rest of our IWD 2021 series can be viewed here

8th March 2021

Preview – Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival 2019

Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival, Brighton, 1st – 7th April 2019

Setting the mood for the upcoming Brighton Festival and Fringe activities, Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival returns to the coast, taking over Brighton’s art spaces and select theatres between 1st – 7th April. For fans of film and music, there’s a brilliantly diverse range of documentaries, live Q&As with artists and directors, exclusive after-show parties and much more.

The festival is supported by the BFI Audience Fund, using money from the National Lottery to encourage and grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films. Following successful runs in London and Liverpool, the action moves to Brighton before heading north again to take part in the Edinburgh Festival from 25th-28th April.

Doc ‘n’ Roll will present 6 fascinating feature films that chart the incredible stories of ground-breaking labels Blue Note (It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story) and Trojan (Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records), shine new light on the previously unexplored depths of the Detroit techno scene that would redefine electronic music (Never Stop – A Music That Resists), explore some of the best soundtracks you never knew existed (The Library Music Film), launch you full pelt into the world of punk’s fearless heroines as they break the glass ceiling and blow the genre apart (Stories from the She Punks) and take you behind the scenes with Badly Drawn Boy as he creates his Mercury Prize-winning debut (About A Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of the Hour of Bewilderbeast).

Among a number of live Q&A highlights, expect candid insights from punk pioneer and co-director  Helen Reddington (The Chefs) as she discusses She Punks, and The Mitcham Submarine’s first-hand account of working with Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, on his cinematic portrait of a unique artist and a seminal album.

This year Doc ‘n’ Roll Brighton will also introduce an eclectic collection of stunning film shorts especially selected for the 2019 edition.

Check out the full programme below:

1st April – Launch Event, Hotel Pelirocco, 6:30pm (free event, advance booking required)

A hand-picked selection of shorts reflecting the diversity and depth of this year’s programme will be shown

3rd April – Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records + Q&A, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, 6:30pm

4th April – The Library Music Film + Q&A, Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 6:30pm and after-party with DJs at Merkaba (My Hotel) from 8pm, entry to the after-party is free for anyone attending the screening

4th April – It Must be Schwing! The Blue Note Story, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, 9:00pm

5th April – Stories from the She Punks + Q&A with Helen Reddington (The Chefs), Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 6:30pm

7th April – Never Stop: A Music that Resists, Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 12:15pm

7th April – About a Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of the Hour of Bewilderbeast + Director Q&A, Hotel Pelirocco, 7:00pm

The festival is a perfect opportunity for music and screen aficionados to gain in-depth insights into the background stories behind some defining cultural moments, while supporting independent venues at the same time.

More information and remaining tickets available here.

29th March 2019