V&A Museum of Childhood - Sister Brother

25 November 2017 – 20 May 2018

Many studies have been made about parental influences in our lives but what influence do our siblings have on our identity? This new display of work by Madeleine Waller, which opens on Saturday 25 November at the V&A Museum of Childhood, aims to explore sibling relationships and how they affect our sense of identity. 


The roles we are given within the family group are embedded from an early age and become defining elements of who we are. We often describe ourselves in relation to our sister or brother and compare similarities and differences. Who we are and what we might become in the future is very much tied up with how similar or different we are to our family group. Our sense of sibling identity is constructed through the telling and retelling of family stories. 

This set of double, triple and quadruple portraits was inspired by sociologist Katherine Davies paper "Siblings, Stories and the Self". Being the youngest of four children and having three children herself, Madeleine was keen to explore the inter sibling relationships and the influence of our sisters and brothers on our identity. 

The portraits were taken between 2016 and 2017 and are mostly of children from the East London area. 


Madeleine Waller

Madeleine Waller is originally from Australia, she moved to London in 1987, and now lives in Hackney, East London. 

After completing a photo-journalism course at London College of Printing Waller started her career working for newspapers and magazines on a broad range of assignments from reportage to features, she chose to concentrate mainly on portraiture. Her portrait projects include: Stockwell Bus Garage, Swimmers, Mothers and Teenage Daughters. 

A selection of Madeleine Waller’s Portraits of Poets has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and are included in their permanent collection. She has had two books published, East London Swimmers, published by Hoxton Mini Press, and Portraits as part of a year long Residency at the Swedenborg Society in London. 


Madeleine Waller is currently Photographer in Residence at Harrow School and she is also working on a Project in Northumberland, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, using Photography to try and improve children’s creative writing skills.

Sister Brother, 25 November 2017 – 20 May 2018