Celine Marchbank

Documentary Photographer
Location: London, UK
Nationality: British
Biography: Celine Marchbank is a slow and acute observer of daily life, fascinated by the quiet details of domesticity, and the often overlooked stories within. Celine’s first book; Tulip, the story of the last year of her mother's life, was... read on
Public Story
Credits: celine marchbank
Updated: 09/08/16
Location: London

In September 2009 my Mum was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, the worst it could be. This meant that the cancer had already spread to distant parts of the body, she had developed a secondary tumour in her brain and a third near her spine. Following a succession of emotionally and physically debilitating treatments including brain operations, chemotherapy, new drug trials and radiotherapy, it was clear that nothing was working. It was too late. By April 2010 they had confirmed it was terminal.

I’d begun simply by documenting her treatments, but as it became more apparent that she wasn’t going to get any better, the photographs began to be not just of her, but of things she loved, things that reminded me of her and things I wanted to remember about her.

Having painfully come to terms with the fact she was going to die, I decided I didn’t want this project to become a graphic portrayal of her death. My mother was an amazing woman, and it would have been impossible, and wrong, to focus only on the dying part. I wanted to look at the things that made her uniquely her. Her love of flowers was a beautiful part of her personality; the house was always full of them, and I realised as I photographed them, that they were symbolic of what was happening - they represented happiness, love, kindness and generosity, but also isolation, decay, and finally death.

Her house was, like she was, so individual. She had distinctive, slightly childlike taste, loving anything bright and cheerful, especially stripes. I needed to document it all. This project became not just about her, but our family home, our life, and of course, her beloved cats.

In 2016 I published this project into a photobook with Dewi Lewis Publishing, it was met with widespread critical acclaim and has been exhibited and published widely nationally and internationally, including being named Photo Book of the Month by Sean O’Hagan in The Observer and Photo Book of The Week by Photo-Eye

Buy the book here

Selected press:

The Observer  Photobook of the Month: Tulip book review – a daughter’s floral tribute

The Guardian  How I photographed my mother’s last days, written by Homa Khaleeli 

BBC News  My mother's favourite flower: A life remembered

Photo-Eye  Book of the Week: A pick by Jordan Sullivan

British Journal of Photography - Tulip: Quiet Images of a Mother’s Struggle with Cancer

Photomonitor  Book review by Anna McNay

Creative Review Photography Annual – Personal Work category winner

The Guardian In Pictures  Tea, tulips and tenderness: my mother’s final days 

Vanity Fair, Italy  I photographed my mother's last days of life

ilPost, Italy  A flower not to forget

L'Oeil de la Photographic  Tulip, My Mother’s favourite flower

PhotoVoice  How Photography Helped me: Celine Marchbank

Shutterhub  Photo books: our latest favourites - Summer 2017

The Independent  Celine Marchbank, Tulip: My Mother’s Favourite Flower, book review

Royal Photographic Society  The Tulip Project

The Plus Paper  Love, Loss and Catharsis

TIME Lightbox  Showcase photography projects selected by the Photo Editors at TIME

The Times Literary Supplement - Book review

Further images of the book can be seen here

By Celine Marchbank —



By Celine Marchbank

A Stranger in My Mother's Kitchen

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Notes From A (very) Small Island

By Celine Marchbank — Since first laying eyes on the Isle of May I've been fascinated by this tiny uninhabited island. Only half..

Washing the Weem

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The Wye

By Celine Marchbank — After winning the  Hereford Photography Festival Open Here Award , I was commissioned to produce..


By Celine Marchbank
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