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Thomas Duffield's Work Exploring Sensitive Domestic Issues

PhD student at the University of Huddersfield, Thomas Duffield who is based in the North of England shared with students his reasoning and the process behind his practice that focuses on sensitive issues surrounding domestic life. Thomas has used photography as a way of exploring his exploring family life over several personal projects that explore his life growing up and the shift in roles that family members have as time goes by.

For his final major project in university, Thomas created The Whole House is Shaking (2017). A revisit his childhood home on his grandfather’s farm on the outskirts of Leeds. Although having a positive memory of his upbringing, his father struggled with addiction and became estranged for some years whilst his father’s problems were hidden from Thomas and his sister to protect them. As an adult, Thomas used photography to explore the complexities of his family life and the absence of his father growing up to what turned out to be a cathartic experience in tackling the sensitive issues surrounding domestic life. He then discusses his following project Just Couldn’t Get the Shoes to Fit (2020) which worked as a collaboration between himself and his grandfather. With portraits of themselves together, Thomas wears his grandfather’s clothes in a playful and performative way to discuss the difficult truths of their changing relationship and shift in roles as they both grow older. When reflecting on these projects, Thomas emphasises the importance of honouring your intuition to the students and how a great body of work can come from just a seed.

These personal projects have also paved the way for commissioned work from several clients, such as being hired by the Anthony Nolan Campaign with the Telegraph Spark, due to his projects demonstrating that Thomas was tuned to photographing issues of a sensitive nature. With a similar occurrence when being commissioned by the Financial times, as the project with his grandfather worked as an example of indoor portraiture and photographing elderly people. Thomas ended the lecture by drawing attention to the importance of portfolio reviews and how they have also helped him receive work outside of his personal practice, allowing him to showcase his work and the type of things he is interested into industry professionals.

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