A moment in photographic history undocumented until now
"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... 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.
This website aims to document the history of the Photo Co-op; including photographs, leaflets, magazines and publications as well as interviews with past members recalling their experiences.
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