Gill Hedleyback

Writer and Curator

False Memory Archive

Gill Hedley speaking at Site Gallery, Sheffield, in 2006


My Dad feels like he remembers the great smogs in London in 52 but he wasn't born until 1958. I feel like I remember Live Aid 85 but I wasn't born until August 1985 - one month afterwards!

Since 2012 the artist and Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow, A.R. Hopwood, has been collecting 'false' and 'non-believed' memories from the public as part of his national touring exhibition and events series, The False Memory Archive. The collection has been edited and themed by Hopwood for a new anthology publication that will feature reflections on the archive from renowned psychologists Professor Elizabeth Loftus and Professor Christopher French.

The archive submissions tend to follow a pattern: a memory is described, only to be undone by evidence that the recollection is faulty or by a suspicion that the experience never actually happened. The memories are in turn surreal, everyday, humorous and chilling – most are harmless insights into the fallibility of memory, while others resonate with real world consequences for those implicated in the false recollection.

The archive is themed in a loose chronology starting with ‘Pre-Birth’ memories and ending in misremembered anecdotes about death. In between, we hear false memories about family members, friends, animals, ghosts, sexual encounters, world events, illnesses, fights, accidents and flying. This extraordinary, intimate and compelling archive takes the reader on an uncanny journey through the shifting sands of autobiographical memory.

Lulu (the singer) died several years ago. I saw it on TV; she had yellow and white flowers in her hearse that spelt out her name. My mother commented on how sad it was because she was quite young. They played clips of her songs in the news story, so it was definitely her I remember. It weirds me out now whenever I see her alive and doing something new.


A.R. Hopwood is an artist and a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow. He is currently artist-in-residence at the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit (APRU) run by Professor Christopher French at Goldsmiths College. Since 2011 he has worked closely with experimental psychologists and neuroscientists in the UK and US on developing collaborative projects in response to research into false memory. This activity culminated in his most recent national touring exhibition, A.R. Hopwood's False Memory Archive.

Since 2004 he has also developed his site-specific, idiosyncratic website through a number of events and exhibitions with major galleries including Tate Britain, Hayward Gallery, ICA, Chapter and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

As well as exhibiting internationally Hopwood has also written extensively for Art Review magazine and was Arts Editor of the notorious Sleazenation magazine. In 2003 he co-curated a critically acclaimed visual art exhibition by Perrier Award winners and BAFTA nominees, nobleandsilver at Beaconsfield. He has taught at foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate level and has been a visiting/associate lecturer at Goldsmiths, Royal Academy of Art, Central St. Martins, Sheffield Hallam, UCA, Wimbledon and University of Kent.

Throughout his fellowship, Hopwood is writing a script for a feature film, developing ideas for an artists’ museum and exploring opportunities for cross-disciplinary research projects with universities.