Photo Poetry Surfaces

17 June 2021 7PM | ONLINE (ZOOM) | FREE


What is visual poetry and photo-poetry? Is it anything – or perhaps a wide continuum of forms, methods of collaboration and visual presentation which have in common experimenting with ways to combine the textual and visual (and in this program, photographic) components?  The work produced can be as much about the content of the text and images as it is about the nature of the letters, words, design, materials, processes, and images. The result could take the form of book, collage, poster, installation or a whole range of other approaches to fusing word and image. When successful, in whatever form, the combination of text and image is much more than illustrative and elicits a dialog and questions in the reading of the work. The presentation of such material could be in book form, displayed as an object or on the wall, or performed in combinations of reading, sound, visuals, etc. 

Chris McCabe and Sophie Herxheimer

As part of the Bristol Photo Festival, the photo-visual-poetics activities (organized by David Solo, Astra Papachristodoulou and Paul Hawkins) will be exploring and presenting a range of photo-poetic works. The programs will include mapping out the range of combinations (and sometimes going outside the lines), exhibiting a selection of current examples, and presenting mixed media presentations of the work.  We’re also hosting conversations about the nature of such collaborations, how such material may be “read” and looking at ways to assess or evaluate it.

Silje Ree, My Friend the Girl from the Circus (2020)

Pairing or fusing poems and photos goes back almost to the beginning of photography with many approaches, starting with simple illustration (largely replacing engraved illustrations or including photos of drawings) and progressing as print technology and artistic trends evolved. In the 20th and 21st centuries exploration of this form has been a constant part of many avant-gardes and experimentation and has been embraced by social, political and conceptual movements. The fusing of poem and photo evolved to embrace many forms of combining the two into visual poems. With today’s technology and increasing proliferation of, and ability to modify and synthesize, images these opportunities are greater than ever.

Dragana Jurisic

For the 2021 edition of the festival, we’ve chosen a range of work made in the last few years by both emerging and established artists that highlights the breadth of ideas being expressed through verse and photo. The work (ranging from books pairing photos and poems by Amak Mahmoodian, Tom Hicks/Liz Berry, and Sarah Cave/Dragana Jurisic to combinations of text and image in single works by SJ Fowler / Bård Torgersen, Vik Shirley and Silje Ree to objects and experimental work by Astra Papachristodoulou and James Knight) will be presented in an online exhibition and in a physical and online catalog with a subset of the artists talking about and performing their work in events during the festival.  

The program will be conducted in 2 parts:

Part 1 – Panel conversation
David Solo
Chris McCabe
Federica Chiocchetti
Jon Nicholls

30-40 minutes discussion (and some slides) that will discuss the history/genre of photo-poetry including visual poetry.  This will further explore the spectrum of work from photo-poetry (paired text and image) to visual poetry to poem objects to poem films — both in physical and digital form (including IG).  The group will discuss what makes such work successful (which may vary for different points on the spectrum), forms of collaboration and how the works may be read by audiences.

5 minute break

Part 2 – Artist presentation and conversation – 50 minutes
Tom Hicks/Liz Berry
Sarah Cave/Dragana Jurisic
Astra Papachristodoulou
Paul Hawkins
SJ Fowler
James Knight
Vik Shirley

Final conclusions and Q&A

Room to Grow: A Participatory Visual Archive

18 June – 31st September 2021 | Mon-Sun 9.00-17.00

Windmill Hill City Farm | Philip St, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4EA

Looking at the stories and history of both allotments and allotment holders, members of the public were invited to contribute to an online archive throughout 2020 and 2021 lockdowns with photographs and stories. From sneaky foxes to vibrant redcurrants, this archive aims to highlight and pay tribute to the creativity of both photography and growing. A selection of this archive will be displayed in this outdoor exhibition which will be touring around Bristol City Farms.

© Colin Pantall

Historically, photography has always been used to document the evolution of species. It was a key way to record different kinds of fruits and vegetables, celebrating the best examples and warning of the infestations, moulds and fungi that may disrupt growing. As photographs started coming in to the archive, the pride and joy of growing your best ever pumpkin or tomato was still apparent. Vibrant examples of apples, chillies and beetroot graced the Instagram feed. 

Submissions to the archive also revealed the imagination and creativity of both practices. Self-made trelliswork and bird-deterring plastic bottles showed the ingenuity of allotment holders; their ability to be practical and innovative to produce creative solutions. But photographs of their spaces also revealed the layered beauty of colours and textures throughout the allotment: rusty wheelbarrows and skyscrapers become part of a bigger composition, blending into a landscape of soft pink and green; the everyday turned magnificent.

Perhaps most tellingly, the archive draws upon the positive benefit photography and urban agriculture can have upon our wellbeing. Many recent studies have explored how both activities can improve self-esteem, quality of life and help us reconnect with others and the environment. The contributed photographs definitely show these advantages. We see friends, parents, children, siblings and communities coming together to grow or socialise. But we also see quiet moments of reflection: the still and calm of stopping for a cup of tea under hazy afternoon cloud or noticing flowers in full bloom and stopping to capture their beauty. 

These mindful moments are essential in all of our lives and perhaps now even moreso in times of Covid and isolation. Having a balance between free time and the other routines of life has become increasingly important. Both photography and growing provide a time to relax and focus the mind and Dig it Yourself draws light on the significance of these shared purposes. For Bristol Photo Festival 2021 a selection of photographs and stories from the archive will be exhibited around Bristol’s city farms and various allotment spaces. We hope you can join us as we delve into the world of growing, exploring its stories and connections to photography.

© Danilo Murru
© Peter Mitchell

The participants involved are Shaun Jackson, Claudia Melina, Colin Moody, Danilo Murru, Helen Ashby, Kineta Hill, Tom Pelly, Jamie Castairs, Marco Kesseler, Rupert Hopkins, Emma Case, Horfield & District Allotment Association, Miriam Manco, Alan Mann, Jenny Roozel, Jack Bateman, Oscar Morland, Rudi Thoemmes, Colin Pantall, Christopher Manson, Steve Laurie, Darren O’Brien, Rachael Munro-Fawcett, James Hudson, Ian Harris, Mayeli Villalba, Ken Grant, Martin Parr, Peter Mitchell, Jon Roche, Jenny Lewis and Kirstin Whimster,.

Grey Areas: Jessie Edwards-Thomas

1 June 2021 – 1 September 2021 | Tue-Sat 11.00-18.00 | Sun 11.00-17.00

Arnolfini | 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA

Jessie Edwards-Thomas has co-designed and co-produced ‘Grey Areas’, a photographic dialogue with five individuals who are currently within or have experienced the ‘homelessness pathway’ with complex needs in Bristol.

Grey Areas © Jessie Edwards-Thomas

The work was created during the winter of 2020/21, the year of the pandemic; when our basic needs for shelter and safety were highlighted across the nation. Our concerns were rooted in the question ‘what does Home mean to our sense of Wellbeing?’ What is continuing to happen to our city spaces which is pushing people further and further away, physically, mentally and socially? Hidden individuals sit in corners, on the edge of boundaries, lingering in doorways, creating a land of limbo mirroring the experiences individuals undergo everyday in the homeless pathway. How are individuals expected to navigate this homeless pathway? Grey Areas reflects the impact our physical spaces have upon our mental spaces. This work does not provide answers, but asks you, the viewer, to question the broken perceptions we may hold.

This original body of work has been produced during Blueprint: Housing & Wellbeing, an artistic commission by Arnolfini and Bristol Photo Festival in collaboration with Golden Key Partnership supported by ArtFund and the Arts Council England.

Grey Areas © Jessie Edwards-Thomas

Elective Affinities: CATALYST Mentorship Programme

18 June 2021 – 31 July 2021 (Amended)

Wednesday to Saturday 11.30- 16.30 (Friday 18 opened until 6pm)

VENUE: BPF Public Gallery | Unit CG13, Castle Gallery, Bristol, BS1 3XD

Elective Affinities: Billy Barraclough – Debsuddha – Jenna Garrett – Kelly O’Brien – Maria Gracia Cebrecos – Sibusiso Bheka

The tension between culture and nature is a matchmaking force that has occupied our minds for centuries. In a current system that dehumanizes and separates, ‘Elective Affinities’ brings together a series of personal stories that investigate universal themes inviting the reader’s reflection on the human condition. Through six visual essays, these authors observe connections between people, their beliefs and actions by exploring family narratives, the process of grief and loss, the margins of social standards, mythological representations, the relation between faith and place and the imact of urban racial segregation. The resulting work has been produced throughout Catalyst, an international mentorship programme, supporting six innovative photographers working alongside a group of international mentors; consisting of artists, designers, curators, educators and photographers. The programme is designed to further their personal careers and widen their approach and methods to photographing. 

The programme is directed by IC Visual Lab in collaboration with Bristol Photo Festival.

John’s Notebooks © Billy Barraclough

John’s Notebooks | Billy Barraclough

‘John’s Notebooks’ is written in marker pen across one of the boxes I pull down from the attic. A photographer and writer, my father left behind an archive and boxes full of notebooks, letters, drawings, paintings and other objects that have been stored away since his death 15 years ago. It was on returning to live in my family home and rediscovering the archive and objects belonging to my father that the work started to be made. John’s Notebooks’ explores the memories and emotions connected to the loss of my father that are stored in the landscape of the family home and surrounding area, in the family members who live here and in the objects he left behind.

Engaging my father’s pictures alongside my own, ‘John’s Notebooks’ becomes a conversation between father and son around legacy and as much about presence as absence.

Belonging © Debsuddha

Belonging | Debsuddha

Belonging is a visual story where as a nephew and a photographer I, Debsuddha, have been sharing the companionship and psychological struggle of my own elderly unmarried aunts Swati and Gayatri Goswami who have spent a lifelong social seclusion due to the discrimination they have faced within their social surroundings for being born as an albino. In short, they are survivors of the racial injustice that they had to deal with since their childhood which has greatly affected them psychologically. Companionship is a vector to build a space that can gradually grow as a place, sometimes virtually or sometimes physically, that floats through and shapes the psychology which reflects in times of crisis. Kolkata, India.

This Holy Hill © Jenna Garrett

This Holy Hill | Jenna Garrett

This Holy Hill explores spirituality and myth in America through a rural vacation town. Branson, Missouri has a population of 11,400 nestled in the Ozark Mountains. For more than a century it’s served as a much-loved tourist destination, drawing an estimated 7 million a year at its height. The region champions a particular subset of American values, but perhaps most of all, a belief it is blessed by God. 

I was born an hour north of Branson. As a child, I visited several times a year. My work examines the foundation on which I was raised. Through a combination of documentary and staged images, I create a nuanced portrait of a worldview often over-simplified. America has a long history of decreeing ordinary places holy, blending nature and the divine as proof of its intended destiny. It’s a story grandly told, partially true and deeply felt.

Are You There? © Kelly O’Brien

Are You There? | Kelly O’Brien

There was a single moment of near contact with my father when I was 7 years old; as his hand suddenly reached through the letterbox of my mother’s front door. He died 8 years after this brief encounter took place. It would take another 8 years until I would learn of his death, from the mouth of my grandma as we wandered through the aisles of our local supermarket.

Over the preceding years, discovering information about my father proved near impossible, with family members only revealing fragments of who he might have been and what he might have been like. In an attempt to uncover this immaterial man, I collaborate with clairvoyants to trace an impression of my estranged father. The information gathered is translated within a visual framework where psychic drawings, automated writing and attempts to communicate with my father are integrated.

LoHaitz © Maria Gracia Cebrecos

LoHaitz | Maria Gracia Cebrecos

In the search through my origins, I discovered that my second last name, originally written as ‘Loaiza’, comes from the words in euskera: “Lo” which means a sleep and “Haitz” which means rock.

In the Basque Country, Koba or the cave is a fundamental space that contains layers of history, myth and knowledge throughout all time. In various legends, it was believed that these were occupied by mythological creatures as they were the portals that connected the terrenal life to the nuclei of the Earth or underground world. These were not only inhabited in the imagery of people but also in Paleolithic times, rupestral paintings evidence a coded language in nature connected with Amalur, Mother Earth.

‘LoHaitz’ is a constant hypnagogic journey where portals are the transitional element in the landscape to trespass these parallel worlds. These are conductors where perhaps that blur boundary that divides them no longer really exists. The project wakes up our senses stimulating the presence of encrypted creatures in nature. It also questions if myth is sleeping in these elements or if we humans, in actual times, have been submerged into a numb state by our reason. Where we are losing sensitivity, disabling us to connect and perceive with our purest origin: nature.

Stop Nonsense © Sibusiso Bheka

Stop Nonsense | Sibusiso Bheka

In township-taal, a wall around your house is called a ‘stop nonsense’ as in, go away, don’t bother me, ‘stop your nonsense’. A ‘stop nonsense’ is a symbol to everyone who passes by that you are going up in the world. It is a barricade of spears between yourself and your environment. That you have something now, worth securing, worth looking after. This documentary project takes place at my grandmother’s house in a township called Thokoza. The township was established in the early 1950’s under a racial segregation government act and not much has changed since. In this documentary project I use the physical barrier of a wall as a canvas to represent the past and present experiences which led my grandmother to build the ‘stop nonsense’ around her house, as well as to express the psychological or symbolic barrier between neighbours and their environment. The inspiration for this body of work comes from childhood memories of growing up in my grandmother’s house and through observing my surroundings.

Growing Spaces: Chris Hoare

18 June – 18 August 2021 | Mon-Sun 9.00-18.00

Royal Fort Gardens | University of Bristol Bristol BS8 1UH

Growing Spaces by photographer Chris Hoare is a chronicle of urban land cultivation in Bristol. Since April 2020, Hoare has been slowly and methodically documenting the allotment-goers, landscape and seasonal changes across the official and unofficial growing spaces of the city. The resulting photographs, originally commissioned by Bristol Photo Festival, are published in this new book Growing Spaces to coincide with an exhibition of the work at the inaugural festival in summer 2021.

patchwork-1-picking-3 001

Hoare’s project documents eleven sites across the city from established allotment sites to community gardens and improvised plots on disused lands. The project was conceived pre-Covid-19 pandemic but its timing, coinciding with increased demand for green spaces for cultivating produce, allowed him to capture the formation and energy of a growing renaissance.

The allotment system recognised today originated in the 19th Century. Land was given to the labouring poor to allow them to grow food at a time of rapid industrialisation with no welfare state in place. Allotments were transformed during the famous ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign during World War II and since then their popularity has wavered. Over time, the stereotype of an allotment goer came to depict a middle-class pastime for retirees. However, in recent years this image of urban land cultivation has evolved as an increasing number of economically and environmentally-conscious young people, families and ethnic minorities are claiming plots. In the process, they are transforming the fertile growing spaces with their own choice of produce and farming methods.

thingwell-pumpkin-pile 001

With demand outstripping supply, urban dead spaces have been commandeered and rejuvenated and their value realised through the process of growing. The allotment has provided the multiple benefits—increasing sustainable local food production whilst simultaneously providing a haven away from home, and an escape, during the current pandemic . 

Chris Hoare (1989) was born in Bristol where he currently lives and works. In 2019 he gained his MA in Photography from University of West of England. His work focuses on the overlooked in society, exploring themes of identity and place, whilst utilising ‘speculative documentary’ to tell visual stories in a loose metaphorical way. His work has been exhibited at National Portrait Gallery, London, Paris Photo and Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol. In 2020 he was a finalist in the Palm* Prize and awarded a GRAIN Covid-19 response bursary. His work has been published in The Guardian, Fisheye, SEASON, HUCK, The Wire, Soccerbible, Les Inrockuptibles, Lufthansa Magazine, Timeout, The Commuter Journal, B24/7 and Bristol Magazine.

thingwell-tina-2-fire 001

The Floating Harbour: Jem Southam

Opening 18 June – 31 October 2021 | Tue – Fri 10.30 – 15.30 | Weekend 9.00-17.00

Underfall Yard | Cumberland Rd, Bristol BS1 6XG

This series of photographs of Bristol Harbour in the late 1970s by Jem Southam provide a unique and definitive portrait of the harbour at a time of rapid change. One of Southam’s first major projects, the photographs were published in ‘The Floating Harbour: A Landscape History of the Bristol City Docks’ (1983) and majority of the works will be exhibited here for the first time.

Unloading the Harry Brown, Hotwells sand wharves, 1978 © Jem Southam

Jem Southam’s grandfather, Harry Cottrell, spent his working life in the Bristol docks as a shipping clerk, overseeing the arrival, unloading and distribution of guano and other such commodities from an office in Queens Square. As a result, when Southam began work at Arnolfini on Narrow Quay in 1977, the city docks held a special meaning for him, despite knowing very little of them or their workings.

‘One day, looking out the window of our office I watched as a large shed was torn down across the other side of the quay. I went over during the lunchbreak with my camera and took some pictures, and as I was doing so realised that the whole of the dockland was going to shortly experience a similar fate. Here was a project waiting for me, and for the next 4/5 years I photographed across the whole of the Floating Harbour.

The Pumphouse, Underfall Yard,1979 © Jem Southam
Blacksmith Shop, Underfall Yard 27th Jan 1982 © Jem Southam

The city had at that time turned its back on the docks. They were run down, only a few surviving industries hung on – the sand wharves regularly brought boats up the river laden with the dredges sand from the Severn Estuary; the timberyards kept going a couple more years; the hydraulic pumphouses still powered some of the bridges and a few of the bonded warehouses remained in use. However the closure of the William Hill shipbuilding yards in 1976 had really put the working life of the docks.

As a result they were almost deserted, and I would spend my Sundays cycling and walking around, rarely meeting a soul. A plan quickly formed to make an archival record of the landscape and remaining architecture of the Floating Harbour in a relatively systematic manner. In my imagination I broke the docks up into a series of different sites, sometimes defined by their use, sometimes just a geographical coherence, and made studies of each one of them.’

Southam photographed sites including Bathhurst Basin, Welsh Back, Cumberland Basin, and Narrow Quay alongside sets of pictures of specific types of dockland furniture – the cranes, the pumphouses, the bridges. Studies were made of individual buildings and their setting, and then further pictures were made of these buildings into the wider landscape. The pictures were all made in black and white using an old-fashioned plate camera and over the course of the project, approximately 1000 negatives were exposed.

Powerboat race, June 1978 © Jem Southam

In the early 1980’s Southam collaborated with John Lord and ‘The Floating Harbour – A landscape History of Bristol City Docks’ was published by John Sansom at Redcliff Press in 1983, and in this same period a couple of small exhibitions of the work were held in the city.

‘’It was always the plan to show some of the pictures in Bristol, well after many people’s memories of the of what they once were had faded, and it is a great pleasure to be participating with the Bristol photography Festival in displaying some pictures outside in the docks themselves.’

Born in Bristol in 1950, Jem Southam’s work is housed in major collections including Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum Folkwang, Essen; and the Yale Center for British Art, Newhaven. His work has been the subject of numerous international solo exhibitions notably, Tate St Ives (2004), V&A Museum, London (2006) and The Lowry, Salford (2009).

Hotwells Road, 1978 © Jem Southam

Thames Log: Chloe Dewe Mathews

20 May – 29 August 2021 | Thu-Sun 10.00-17.00

Martin Parr Foundation | 316, Paintworks, Arno’s Vale, Bristol BS4 3AR


Chloe Dewe Mathews spent five years photographing up and down the River Thames, from its puddling source to great estuary mouth. The resulting series of work, Thames Log, examines the ever-changing nature of our relationship to water, from ancient pagan festivities through to the rituals of modern life.

Mass Baptism, Southend, 2013 © Chloe Dewe Mathews

In Thames Log, Dewe Mathews focuses on lives that overlap regularly with the river but often go unnoticed — ship spotters, who log the continual stream of vessels that pass through Tilbury, and mudlarks as they comb the city sludge for Roman and Saxon treasure. In the countryside, above the tidal river, she encounters a druid coracle builder, a mass baptism and the annual census of royal swans.

The works in the exhibition are displayed in geographical order to reflect a journey downstream to the Thames mouth then returning back up to its source. There will be an immersive 6-metre print of the water’s surface with floating crucifix, captured after the ‘Blessing of the River’ ceremony at London Bridge. The Thames becomes a protagonist in a series of diverse practices that seamlessly flow downstream, from May Day Morris Dancing and university boat burning in Oxford, to Islamic evening prayer and Hindu rites in Southend.

Coracle Mission, Lechlade, 2013 © Chloe Dewe Mathews
Maghrib / Evening Prayer, Southend, 2012 © Chloe Dewe Mathews

Thames Log looks beyond the river’s well-documented landscape to consider both religious and secular rituals, and how meaning and identity can be constructed through practices both big and small, private and public. The Thames becomes a source from which to dream, or imagine other places, other rivers – the Volga, the Congo, the Ganges, Venice lagoon, Arcadia. For some, it will represent a final point of departure, as their ashes are scattered into its flow.

Like much of Dewe Mathews’ work, Thames Log pits documentary photography’s tendency to categorise and classify against the mystery and poetry of daily life. Thames Log includes data for each event featured in the photographs including the exact GPS coordinates, dates, tides and weather. By including this information, Dewe Mathews underpins her lyrical images with a rational framework, inviting a reading of the work as a record and witness, whilst reflecting on the process of making work along the river, where a personal photographic ritual evolved.

A book for the series was co-published by Loose Joints / Martin Parr Foundation in January 2021.

Scattering of Human Ashes, Southend Pier, 2015 © Chloe Dewe Mathews

IN PROGRESS: Laia Abril – Hoda Afshar – Widline Cadet – Adama Jalloh – Alba Zari

20 May – 24 October 2021


Royal Photographic Society | 337 Paintworks, Arno’s Vale, Bristol BS4 3AR

IN PROGRESS is a new show commissioned by the RPS consisting of five solo exhibitions of both new work and work-in-progress, by five of the most innovative photographers and photo-based artists working today. The exhibition explores a wide range of issues – including personal history, cultural identity, nationality, community, migration, displacement, memory, responsibility, morality, belief and the creative process – and highlights the diverse possibilities that photography offers in the pursuit of both artistic and social progress.

PMS, from the series ‘Menstruation Myths’ © Laia Abril
courtesy Les Filles du Calvaire / courtesy Royal Photographic Society
An officer and lawyer in the Australian Special Forces, 2020
from the series ‘Agonistes’ 2020 © Hoda Afshar
courtesy Royal Photographic Society

The exhibition refrains from explicitly linking the participating artists around an overarching theme or idea, choosing instead to present a group of one-person shows, consisting of both new work and work-in-progress, that both honour and champion each of their independent motivations and artistic practices.

IN PROGRESS explores an extensive range of issues, including personal history, cultural identity, nationality, community, migration, displacement, memory, morality, belief, responsibility and the creative process. Employing a variety of image-making techniques and approaches, the works on display interrogate and emphasise photography’s role in research, critique, discovery, documentation and self-expression, in the pursuit of both artistic and social progress.

Seremoni Disparisyon #1  (Ritual [Dis]Appearance #1), 2019
from the series ‘Seremoni Disparisyon (Ritual [Dis]Appearance)’
© Wildline Cadet courtesy Royal Photographic Society
Love story, 2019 from the series ‘Process’ 
© Adama Jalloh courtesy Royal Photographic Society

IN PROGRESS: Laia Abril – Hoda Afshar – Widline Cadet – Adama Jalloh – Alba Zari also references the first exhibition curated by John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art – Five Unrelated Photographers: Heyman, Krause, Leibling, White, and Winogrand (1963) – which similarly presented a group of one-person shows, ‘each large enough to indicate the cumulative meaning of a body of work…emphasizing [each photographer’s] individual motivation and direction…[and] the independence and individuality of each [artist]’.

Collectively, they celebrate contemporary photography at its most diverse, dynamic and progressive.

My mothers intervention on our Family Album #1 from the series ‘Occult’
© Alba Zari courtesy Royal Photographic Society

From Fairy Tales to Photography: Jo Spence

Photographs from the Hyman Collection

18 May 2021 – 20 June 2021 | Tue-Sat 11.00-18.00 | Sun 11.00-17.00

Arnolfini | 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA


Drawn from one of the most comprehensive collections of Jo Spence’s works in the world, From Fairy Tales to Phototherapy focuses on the intersection between arts, health and wellbeing, celebrating her work as a photo therapist in which she used photography as a medium to address personal trauma, reflecting on key moments in her past.

Only when I got to fifty did I realise I was Cinderella 1984, in collaboration with
Rosy Martin. Jo Spence © The Jo Spence Memorial Archive,
Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto, Canada.

Arnolfini presents a major retrospective of the work of photographer Jo Spence (1934 – 1992), drawn from The Hyman Collection, which is one of the most comprehensive collections of Spence’s works in the world. This exhibition originally opened in December 2020 but was seen by a smaller than anticipated audience due to the subsequent covid winter lockdown.

Spence has been an integral figure within photographic discourse from the 1970s onwards. Throughout her diverse projects she is well known for her highly politicised approach to photography and the representation of her own struggles with cancer. The exhibition From Fairy Tales to Phototherapy focuses on the intersection between arts, health and wellbeing, celebrating Spence’s work as a phototherapist in which she used photography as a medium to address personal trauma, reflecting on key moments in her past. This will be the first time that her thesis will be exhibited and published in its entirety. Entitled “Fairy Tales and Photography, Or, Another Look At Cinderella”, this was a pivotal document, created at a crucial point in Spence’s career. The exhibition will focus on the actual smallscale photographs that Spence used in her phototherapy sessions as well as the laminate panels that she used for her workshops and touring exhibitions.

From Fairy Tales to Phototherapy charts Spence’s diagnosis and treatment for cancer, juxtaposing humour with inevitable challenging issues. Themes include Cinderella and Fairytales, Remodelling Photo History/Medical History, Childhood, Child and Parent Relationships, Libido/Sexuality/Marriage, The Grotesque.

Jo Spence: From Fairy Tales to Phototherapy is curated by Keiko Higashi, Engagement Producer at Arnolfini, with Dr. Frances Hatherley, writer, researcher and archivist at the Jo Spence Memorial Library Archive at Birkbeck, University of London.

Island Life: Photographs from the Martin Parr Foundation

18 May – 31 October 2021 | Tue-Sun 10.00-17.00

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery | Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL


Island Life draws upon photographs from the Martin Parr Foundation collection to show the changing fabric of our cities, society and collective identities. Focusing on post-war from the UK and Ireland, the exhibition will bring together images by over 60 photographers including Khali Ackford, Pogus Caesar, Elaine Constantine, Sian Davey, Chris Killip, David Hurn, Ken Grant, Markéta Luskačová, Graham Smith and Tom Wood. Collectively the images form a compelling study of national behaviour.

I  thought I saw Liz Taylor and Bob Mitchum in the back room of the Commercial, South Bank, 1984.  © Graham Smith courtesy Martin Parr Foundation
Summer Street Party, 2018 © Clementine Schneidermann and Charlotte James courtesy Martin Parr Foundation

The exhibition includes photographs which document moments of historical significance including the poll tax riot, the Aberfan mine disaster and most recently, the BLM movement. These will be displayed alongside images depicting the everyday – weddings, shopping, football and Butlin’s holidays. Island Life traces the evolution of documentary photography in Britain, the photographers who influenced Parr and the younger generation he is influencing in turn.

Family Christening, Norris Green, Liverpool, 1989 © Ken Grant
courtesy Martin Parr Foundation
Ferryquay Gate, Derry, silver gelatin print, toners and watercolours,1989 © Victor Sloan courtesy Martin Parr Foundation