The work of Jo Spence continues to influence and inform debates on photography. In her broad practice, typically involving collaboration with individuals and groups, Spence connected the personal with the political to explore how photography can represent and also construct reality. Through photography, teaching and writing; addressing subjects such as children’s rights, women’s rights, family, class and illness; Spence demonstrated an enduring commitment to her belief in photography’s ability to empower those that use and experience it.
The exhibition at Stills will showcase different aspects of Spence’s photographic output. A presentation of self-portraiture, dating from the last ten years of her life, will include examples of photo therapy, a technique that she developed with Rosy Martin and began in 1984 in order to work through a number of personal histories relating to issues of sexuality, family and class. Documentary material from the 1970s will illustrate the educational workshops that Spence developed with her long-term collaborator, Terry Dennett, through their Children’s Educational Work, The Secret World of Children and Adventure Playgrounds projects. The exhibition will also include collaborative work produced in 1981 by The Polysnappers, a group that included Spence and three of her fellow Photography students at the Polytechnic of Central London: Mary Ann Kennedy, Jane Munro and Charlotte Pembrey.