Autofictions: Trish Morrissey at Photo Museum Ireland

Posted 4 weeks ago in Arts & Culture Features

Trish Morrissey develops and plays characters that resonate with her own life and archives material to make photographs and films, sometimes disturbing often funny. Here we present two of her complementary bodies of work.



Morrissey’s son was born with health difficulties when her daughter was three years old. Confined to the house with two small children, Morrissey needed to find her materials and subject matter within the home. The Failed Realist evolved from a rainy day face painting activity into a collaboration between mother and daughter.


Morrissey’s daughter decided to paint her mother’s face, choosing subjects from her immediate experience and naming the pictures. Morrissey submitted to these desires and, together they photographed the results.

A Wild Dog Chasing A London Bird

The series title comes from the French philosopher and psychologist Georges-Henri Luquet (1876-1965), whose studies of the evolution of children’s drawing based on stages of realism were published in 1927 (translated into English, 2001).


The ‘failed realism’ stage comes between the ages of four and six, when a child wants to represent the world and yet their verbal and visual skills exceed their mark making abilities.



This series was made when Morrissey’s daughter was bordering on becoming a teenager. In some respects, it was an experiment to test the theories of drawing explored in The Failed Realist, and to see how the child’s worldview and relationship with her mother had evolved since 2011. As before, Morrissey gave her daughter completely free reign and submitted to her will.

Cyclops Twins

She writes: “Where previously it had been an endurance test – her clumsy brush skills poking and scratching my skin for up to an hour, this time she was an artist with a canvas, a successful realist.

Clown Face

“Some of the results from the second iteration of this process were obscure and witty (Cyclops Twins), and others ghoulish (Clown Face).

Life and Death

Some were influenced by her time online (Emoji Love Eyes), others express her generation’s concern with the world they are being left to fix (Life and Death).

Words: Kate Best

Feature Image: Love Eyes, Trish Morrissey 2017

Autofictions: Twenty Years of Photography and Film is on the Photo Museum Ireland until Saturday February 10

Trish will do a masterclass on Sunday February 11 from 1.30pm – 4.30pm for eight participants, €250 Individual rate, €235 Museum Members, Students/Unwaged/Artists & OAPs.


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