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))