Jo Spence, 1934-1992

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Jo Spence was born in London on 15 June 1934. She was a writer, photo therapist and cultural worker. From 1967-1974 she ran a successful portrait and wedding studio in London. After becoming more politicised she abandoned commercial work and became a documentary, then agitprop photographer, beginning to work with others (principally Terry Dennett) on a collaborative or cooperative basis. In 1974 she set up Photography Workshop which later combined its programme with the Half Moon Gallery to form the Half Moon Photography Workshop which published the innovative photographic magazine 'Camerawork'. Jo also helped form the Hackney Flashers Collective, a socialist feminist documentary group working on issues of wages, class and childcare in the inner city. To support herself financially she worked as a secretary in the Education Department of the British Film Institute. In 1979 she enrolled at the Polytechnic of Central London on a full time degree course where she trained with photo theorist Victor Burgin. Her degree totally changed her previous ways of working and thinking about photography, she no longer continued in the reporter/voyeur of traditional photographic practice. In 1982 she was diagnosed with cancer. From this time her work focused on identity and subjectivity, mental and physical health. She also trained as an art therapist, and started to integrate this with her photographic knowledge. Jo Spence died in 1992.

From the guide to the Jo Spence Collection, 1980s-1992, (The Women's Art Library (MAKE))

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Jo Spence Collection, 1980s-1992 The Women's Art Library (MAKE)
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith British Film Institute corporateBody
associatedWith Burgin, Victor person
associatedWith Coward, Ros person
associatedWith Dennett, Terry person
associatedWith Hackney Flashers Collective corporateBody
associatedWith Half Moon Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Kirby, Kim person
associatedWith Martin, Rosy person
associatedWith Polytechnic of Central London corporateBody
associatedWith Spence, Jo. artist, 1934-1992 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Women artists


Birth 1934

Death 1992

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Ark ID: w6dw6qf9

SNAC ID: 58879686