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Journey through lost high street landmarks of East and South London in a series of detailed artworks blending map, archive and anecdote with deadpan humour.
What do you call a memoir that isn’t? In THIS IS NOT A MEMOIR, Janette Parris incisively narrates a journey through lost high street landmarks of East and South London in a series of detailed artworks blending map, archive and anecdote with deadpan humour. Part graphic novel, part recollection, and accompanied by an in-conversation between Janette Parris and Gilane Tawadros, this is an intimate exploration of what it means to have ownership of public space, from Wimpy to Woolworth’s via Canning Town. And somewhere in the gaps, in absent moments caught gazing at the sky or a kerbside, an impression of a life emerges–or is that just what she wants you to think?
Literary Nonfiction. Art. LGBTQ+ Studies. Women's Studies.
“This book by Janette Parris tells a deflationary yet expressive coming-of-age story in the East End of London. While it may seem fun and superficial, its considerable power lies in how it moves through memories and moments in a witty and light-footed way presented as a roman-à-clef. THIS IS NOT A MEMOIR is particular in the way it conjures a world of the 1970s and 1980s that is lost to most of London, yet still resonates with what it means to grow up as a working class young woman who ends up at art school and becomes an artist. It is a brave book to make, but one that will be remembered.” — Rachel Garfield, artist, Professor of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art and author of Experimental Filmmaking and Punk: Feminist Audio Visual Culture in the 1970s and 1980s (2021)
“THIS IS NOT A MEMOIR rewards reflection and scrutiny, but is perhaps most strikingly original in its unprecedented combination of stark typography and equally emphatic digital imaging, which together seem to attempt to deliver a matter-of-fact reality in a deadpan voice, without romanticising or dramatising what is nevertheless a lifelong struggle to assume a position, find a place, believe in a self, and eventually try to find a seat within the grand game of musical chairs that ultimately determines middle-class profession, competition, achievement and recognition. ” — Dr Paul O’Kane, Senior Lecturer in Critical Studies, Fine Art at Central Saint Martins
Janette Parris is an artist who investigates the contemporary urban experience, using narrative, humour and popular formats including soap opera, stand-up comedy, musical theatre, pop mu-sic, cartoons, comics and animation. Parris has exhibited widely nationally and internationally for 25 years at spaces including TATE, The New Art Gallery Walsall, ICA, Kunsthaus Z�rich, Hay-ward Gallery Touring, Art on the Underground and Royal Academy of Arts.