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Timescapes exhibitions - Family Lives & Turning Points

Timescapes exhibitions - Family Lives & Turning Points

Members of the public are being invited to share their memories of key turning points in their lives at an exhibition in London, as part of a national study of family life across the generations.

The event on Thursday 18 March, which is part of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, aims to generate a new collection of accounts as part of the Timescapes and BBC Memoryshare studies. These studies are exploring how personal relationships and identities unfold through a person's life course.

"We're keen for people to be able to document their own lives in their own words, and BBC Memoryshare enables the public to write accounts of important events, such as weddings, births, growing up, illnesses, divorces and growing old," says Professor Bren Neale of the University of Leeds, Director of the Timescapes project.  

Together the Timescapes and BBC Memoryshare projects aspire to collect and preserve experiences and memories of people's family lives and relationships. Timescapes' primary focus is to document personal relationships and how the nature of these relationships changes through time. Participants in the research include first time fathers, a group of young people of the same age, 21st century mothers, the family unit and the older generation.

The collection of memories generated from this exhibition will form an important part of the Timecapes' archive. This online archive is available for current and future generations of researchers, students and policymakers to use. The online archive includes photos, interview transcripts and other visual materials.

"Visitors to the exhibition will be able to provide written accounts of their own memories or important events which will be added to the Timescapes' archive. We hope to generate a wide range of accounts from across the generations and are particularly interested to hear from children, young people, parents and the older generation" says Professor Neale.

Visitors can contribute on the day, by filling in postcards or submitting their accounts online via a laptop that will be made available.

"You don't need to be present at the event to contribute. People can contribute now in the run up to the exhibition by logging onto the Timescapes website and filling in the e-postcard. It is a really exciting initiative to be a part of and we hope that the general public agrees.

"The collection of this information will yield valuable historical and contemporary data about family relationships and significant, life changing experiences'' says Sarah Finney, Timescapes Communications Officer.

Photography competition

In addition to collating visitors' memories the exhibition will display photographic competition entries on the subject of key turning points in family life. The competition is now open to the general public and the only criterion is that the photo depicts a key family turning point, which can be a family holiday, a loved one, a first pet or a child's birthday. Entries can be made by following the links from the Timescapes website. Hard copy and electronic entries are welcomed. The competition closes on 10 March 2010.

The winning photograph will be featured on the Timescapes website and the winner will receive an iPod and an invitation to attend the exhibition in London with travel expenses paid for. For further information about the competition please contact Sarah Finney, Timescapes Communications Officer, Tel: 0113 343 8489 email:

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors:

  1. Family lives and turning points: Timescapes memoryshare
  2. Timescapes is the first major qualitative longitudinal study to be funded by the ESRC. Uses the method of 'walking alongside people' to capture the complexities of family relationship and how they change over time. The study began in 2007 it's a five-year project and encompasses seven research studies: children's relationship with their siblings, young people's relationships and identities, a study of motherhood, men as fathers, work and family lives, grandparents, health and social exclusion, relationships and identity in later life. The project works in collaboration with Leeds, London South Bank, Cardiff, Edinburgh and the Open University and has an in-depth involvement with some 400 people at various stages in their lives. Further information: Timescapes or BBC Memoryshare.
  3. The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council. It runs from 12th to 21st March 2010, alongside National Science and Engineering Week. It features events from some of the country's leading social scientists the festival and celebrates the very best of British Social Science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future. The Festival provides insight into research in a variety of formats; from traditional lectures and exhibitions to theatrical performances, film screenings and topical debates. The Festival is aimed at a range of different audiences, including policy makers, business, the media, the general public and students of all ages. Press releases detailing some of the varied events are available at the Festival website.

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