Painted still lives can explore spatial relationships, but in two dimensions only. Film adds movement into depth and time and, as in the case of two of the films in this section, the possibility of transformation within the image. 

Films showing in this section: 

5.18: Jenny Okun Still Life 1976
5.24: Lucy Gunning Tomatoes on a Pan Lid 1991
5.27: Sarah Pucill You Be Mother 1990
5.27: Credits 

Jenny Okun Still Life 1976

6 minutes. Collection: Lux 

Jenny Okun has worked extensively with the medium of photography. Her Still Life reflects on the mutability of colour in photography, and the elusiveness of photographic truth. Resorting to the older medium of painting, she explores ‘the impossibility of transforming an image from colour negative to colour positive on the same filmstock.’ Biography:

Jenny Okun was born in New York in 1953. She studied at the Slade School of Art. From the first Okun worked in photography as well as film, attempting in both ‘to integrate the structural aspects of an event or landscape with the structural aspects of the medium’. Since the mid-1980s, she had worked exclusively with photography, making large scale ‘architechtonic’ images. 

Lucy Gunning Tomatoes on a Pan Lid 1991

3 minutes. Collection: Collection: Matts Gallery 

Lucy Gunning’s training as a sculptor is evident in her film and video work, with its emphasis on bodily exploration of the physical world. Her early Super8 still life defies the genre and vigorously asserts life over still-ness. 


Lucy Gunning was born in 1964 She studied at Falmouth School of Art and Goldsmith’s College of Art, London. Many of Gunning’s videos record the conscious childsplay and unconscious tics of human behaviour. 

Sarah Pucill You Be Mother 1990

8 minutes. Collection: Lux 

A still life of a teaset penetrated by projected images provides Sarah Pucill with a form of self-portraiture. In the artist’s words ‘the film is an expression of the complexities of breaking free from sexual and familial stereotypical roles and behaviour patterns.’ 


Sarah Pucill was born in 1961. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Slade School of Art and the University of East London. Pucill makes photographic works as well as films, preferring the close-up to the long-shot. Her imagery is strongly-rooted in feminist theory, but combines this with a direct appeal to the senses. 


A Century of Artists’ Film in Britain. Curated by David Curtis, 
Produced by Illuminations Television 
Supported by Tate Members 
Central Saint Martins London Institute
AHRB Centre for British Film & Television Studies
LUX and the British Film Institute 

Films courtesy of the artists and BFI National Film & Television Archive, Consignia (GPO Collection), East Anglia Film Archive, Halas & Batchelor Collection, Matts Gallery, The Penrose Estate, Projects UK, The Stedelijk Museum, Smoking Dogs Films, Tate, and The White Cube Gallery.