Included in The Photobook: A History volume III
Shortlisted for the Contemporary Photobook Award at Rencontres D'Arles 2007
"The Mother of All Journeys' charmingly examines the memories of the photographer's mother and her journey from rural China to Manchester, with an intervening 20 or so years in Hong Kong. The book combines her old family snapshots with contemporary images taken by Li in all three locations. It delicately displays the poignancy of the family photograph, illustrating the gap between memory and present-day reality. We also learn much about the issues and difficulties surrounding immigration. With respect and sensitivity, photography can become a valuable form of therapy." — Martin Parr
Inspired by the memories of his mother, originally told to Dinu Li as childhood bed-time stories, The Mother of All Journeys traces, through photographs and personal quotes, the story of a woman born in rural China and her escape to a new life via Hong Kong and eventually the industrial north of England.
Li collaborated with his mother, using each other’s recollections as starting points and comparing the actual with the images lodged in their minds. Li’s photographs tease out fragmented moments in time, charting rural traditions from 1920s China and the communist ideologies of the late 1940s. Spanning two decades from the mid 50s, Li turns his attention to a Hong Kong changing from fishing village to urban metropolis. Under British administration, it was a time of sweatshops and western influence. Finally Li focuses on Britain, from the resettlement of his family there in the 70s, at a time of strikes and de-industrialisation, through to the millennium, and an era of multiculturalism and globalisation.
Aided by family snapshots and Li’s mother’s narration, The Mother of All Journeys triggers a sense of repetition and nostalgia, invoking glimpses of the times we live in.