Margaret Mitchell’s two formative projects, Family, 1994 and In This Place 2016/17 are connected not just in subject matter through the documentation of Mitchell’s own family, but also in the passing of time. Looking over the span of 22 years between each series, Mitchell asks what changes and similarities have passed between these generations of one family.
Family features the daily lives of Mitchell’s late sister and her three children as they navigated their way through difficult emotional and socio-economic circumstances in their hometown in Scotland. Family is about childhood in a complex and sometimes imperfect domestic sphere. It presents an internal dynamic where multiple influences are seeping slowly into the children’s idea of self, contributing and shaping who they are to become.
In This Place updates the lives of the three children as they move into adulthood, now with their own families. Covering both personal and social geography, the series asks questions about the choices we have in life and if they are ultimately predetermined by upbringing, locality and socio-economic position.
This is story of love, loss and endurance with social inequality at its heart. The children from 1994 did not travel far, moving from one area scoring high in government statistics on deprivation to another. Through parental loss and limited opportunities, a glue binds the original three siblings together still in 2016, intertwined and interdependent as they were as children in 1994. Yet, within this personal geography of one family, the social impact is evident. Choice is not equal for all.
Through this extended observation of one family, Mitchell asks the viewer to look to their own experiences and think about the extent to which the wider society, opportunities presented, domestic and external environment have determined their own lives and the choices they have been afforded in life.