Gallery Event: Photo Co-op Website Launch at Photofusion
Thursday 4th September 6.30 – 9.00pm
“The Photo Co-op melded new critical thinking around images and power with a real engagement in local politics. It succeeded in mixing an approachable camera club with community activism” – Crispin Hughes, Photo Co-op photographer
“It really started as a group of ‘amateur’, local, leftie, photography enthusiasts who wanted to do good. We were not out there to make buckets of money… I would like to compare us to Magnum on a much smaller scale.” – Janis Austin, Photo Co-op photographer
Photo Co-op (1979 – 1991) was a photographic collective and picture library founded by photographer Gina Glover and architect Martin Lipton in Wandsworth, South London. In 1991 it was transformed into the well-known photography centre Photofusion, Brixton, but up until now the Photo Co-op’s history and 11 year existence has gone undocumented.
Photo Co-op members sought to stimulate social and political change through the medium of photography during a time of significant unrest – the 1980s, now known as the Thatcherite years. Set in motion by the financial support of the Greater London Council, the Co-op raised awareness of issues such as hospital closures, unemployment, homelessness, youth, education and transport as well as broader issues including racism, ageism and sexual discrimination.
The group spread their message by licensing their images to unions, newspapers and publications as well as creating their own leaflets, calendars and exhibitions often housed at Battersea Arts Centre. Photo Co-op also taught adult educational classes, possessed it’s own darkroom and created it’s own magazine Photo.
The website that will be launched this September 4th documents this history of the Photo Co-op; including original photographs, leaflets, magazines and publications as well as interviews with past members recalling their experiences.
Photofusion continues to offer educational classes and events, digital and analogue photographic services, an exhibition space, a picture library – now digitalised but still committed to real people and events – and it also works with communities in South London. It is however no longer so centred on documentary and ‘realism’ based, but that is a sign of changing times.
This project was instigated by one of the early members, Bridget Bishop (working name Corry Bevington), and was made possible with the enthusiastic support and contributions from fellow founders Gina Glover and Sarah Saunders and key players Geof Rayner, Janis Austin, Julia Martin, Chris Boot, Luis Bustamente, Crispin Hughes, Vicki White and Tom Ang.
The archive that we have here is by no means conclusive and might best be seen as a work in progress, so if anyone has more photographs, publications or information associated with the Photo Co-op, or if any past members would like to give an interview, please do get in touch.
Please RSVP to [email protected]
020 7738 5774