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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1995 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Billingham, Richard, born 1970 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    R-type colour print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Richard Billingham (born 1970) began photographing his family when he first went to art school to do a foundation course in 1990. Ray, his alcoholic father, was usually drunk, often unconscious. When Billingham moved on to study fine art at University of Sunderland, he continued to photograph his family - partly with the idea of painting from them, perhaps for other reasons. Billingham has spoken about his pictures, 'working like therapy'. The picture of his mother doing a jigsaw puzzle is his most tender and subtle photograph.

Physical description

A colour photograph depicting a woman, in a floral patterned dress, seated on a green sofa, doing a jig-saw puzzle. On the table with the puzzle there is also a packet of Sky cigarettes, an ash tray with several cigarette ends and a glass mug of tea.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)


1995 (made)


Billingham, Richard, born 1970 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

R-type colour print


Width: 850 mm frame, Height: 1250 mm frame

Object history note

This photograph is represented in the following public and private collection: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Saatchi Collection, Eilen and Micheal Cohen; Private Collection, London; Fotomuseum, Winterthur ; Rockefeller, New York.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Richard Billingham, 'Untitled', photograph depicting the artist's mother doing a jig-saw puzzle, from the series 'Ray's a Laugh', r-type colour print, Birmingham, 1995

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1996
plate 86
Haworth-Booth, Mark. Photography: An Independent Art. London, V&A, 1997.

Labels and date

Richard Billingham came to prominence through his unusually candid documentary photographs of his family. He produced a body of work which looked at the day to day events in his home, observed in a frank and sometimes confrontational manner. The main subjects are his father and, seen here, his mother, and their relationship with one another. Billingham's acute eye for composition is coupled with a flair for timing, capturing emotions ranging from pathos to humour within an unfolding domestic drama. [2008-2009]




Photographic print

Subjects depicted

Jigsaw puzzle; Deprivation; Tea; Cigarettes; Family; Poverty; Woman


Photographs; Poverty; Games


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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