Fishtank is part of The Artangel Collection. Since the launch of The Artangel Collection, Fishtank has been shown at:
Art Exchange, Colchester in 2017, Museum of the Home in London in 2021 and g39 in Cardiff from 2023 - 2024.

  • Artist: Richard Billingham
  • Title: Fishtank
  • Date: 1998
  • Medium: Single-screen video with sound  
  • Dimensions: Overall display dimensions variable
  • Duration: 43 minutes


Billingham’s TV debut pushes you so close to his fighting, drinking, low-income family that it hurts. His photographs have always wrong- footed any neat interpretation, and now Fishtank uses a camcorder to up the emotional ante with an often excruciating, sometimes exquisite fusion of intimacy and objectivity. — Louisa Buck, Artforum, 1998

Fishtank features hi-8 footage of Richard Billingham’s family at home in their council flat in the West Midlands. Filmed almost entirely within the claustrophobic confines of their flat, Billingham’s film features his mother Liz, brother Jason and alcoholic father Ray as well as various pets. A natural history film of a dysfunctional family, it alternates between alienation, altercation and affection. Following Billingham’s acclaimed book of photographs Ray’s a Laugh (1996), Fishtank was Billingham’s first film and was considered a groundbreaking work for television. Screens appear throughout the film, reminding us of their power to absorb and create opportunities for escapism whether it be through television or a computer game. Dispassionately yet compassionately, Fishtank crafts a terrible beauty from the landscape of family life.

Image: Richard Billingham, Fishtank, 1998 (detail)

Installation view of Richard Billingham, Fishtank at Order out of Chaos, Art Exchange, Colchester 2017

At Art Exchange

Colchester, 24 February – 25 March 2017

Fishtank was shown at Art Exchange as part of ‘Order out of Chaos’ an exhibition that focused on Billingham’s early work. The film was exhibited alongside other short film works and Instamatic photographs, all of which were created during a period when the artist was directly documenting his family at their flat in the East Midlands in the 1990s. 

Image: Richard Billingham, Fishtank, 1998 installed at Art Exchange in 2017. Photo: Douglas Atfield


At g39

Cardiff, Part 1: 27 October - 16 December 2023 and Part 2: 10 February - 23 March 2024  

Fishtank was the central work in the two-part exhibition, We Ran Together, at g39 in Cardiff. Part 1 presented Fishtank alongside a selection of Billingham's early short film works and photographs, all made in the same time period as Fishtank.

Part 2 presented newly commissioned works created by three artists based in Wales, in response to Fishtank. George H. Wale, Durre Shahwar, and Michal Iwanowski responded to different strands of the film's content to develop new sculptural, photographic and text works. g39 and Artangel supported the artists through the commissioning process.

Image: Richard Billingham, Fishtank, 1998. In Part 1 of We Ran Together, installed at g39 in 2024. Photo: Dan Weill 

Previous Presentations

Since the launch of The Artangel Collection, Fishtank has been presented at:

  • g39, Cardiff, Part 1: 27 October - 16 December 2023 and Part 2: 10 February - 23 March 2024  
  • Museum of the Home, London, 01 October - 28 November 2021
  • Art Exchange, Colchester, 24 February - 25 March 2017