Project 2 Jo Spence (self research)

Having spent some considerable time looking at Jo Spence, I find myself pulled in different directions. Firstly I admire her bravery, her work and how she speaks (or photographs) her mind. She is like me. I say it as it is. On the other hand the Libido Uprising project is just not my cup of tea, although I do understand what she is doing and why. Jo Spence appears to have influenced Gillian Wearing, whom I encountered earlier and I am convinced she will have given strength and courage to anyone who has seen her work.

Her life is somewhat tragic, being blessed with breast cancer and then leukaemia. My heart went out to her when I read her story. The illnesses have also been a catalyst for some of her best work.

The Cancer Shock project, must have been hard to work with, but also cathartic. Is there an element of exhibitionism again in there. I’m not convinced that many people I know would bare all. I understand why this is done but again this is not my cup of tea. I’m also unsure if the general public wold understand what the project is really about or the necessity get get one kit off.

Below is my favourite image that I have seen relating to Jo’s work. My reasons for this are laid out below the image.


  • I am of an age where I actually remember using Squeezy washing up liquid. It was cheap and naff.
  • The images behind Jo also add to the message about the role of women in life and society.
  • I’m not sure but in the capitalism works poster, the main character appears to be the macho man Clint Eastwood.
  • The mask adds to the fact she is saying woman are being suppressed.
  • The gloves hint at what would have been classed as “women work”.
  • I think artists like Jo, will have awakened some ladies to take up the fight to strive for equality.
  • She is also wearing a wedding ring to add to the fact that she belongs to a man.
  • I am a believer in equality for all.

What I have been doing.

Photographically, this is where I have been for the last few weeks, which has moved my concentration off my degree for a short spell. Varied and interesting is how I would describe it.

I have also been sorting out my website and setting up my Facebook business page.

Please have a look around both.

My work is also now on a number of websites and Facebook pages a few of which are below.


Part 1 Research



“These photographs are very different from Cartier-Bresson’s as they are theatrical performances rather than decisive moments. Brassaï’s subjects are not only aware of the photographer, they collaborate with him. Brassaï’s unique style gave Paris de nuit its distinctive intimacy and led to its huge public success.” Image and text taken from Meltzer, S (2014) The piercing eye of Brassai: the stunning work of a master French photographer, Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2017).

I have come across the work of Brassai before and I feel this collection of Paris By Night embraces something new in photography for the age and that being night-time photography. He appears to have intimate relationships with the buildings, areas and the people in his images. He is not distant as was Cartier-Bresson he appears to know the subjects well and having read much about him, I believe some of his subjects were well-known to him.

Henry Mayhew

He was influenced, apparently, by an outbreak of cholera, which seems unusual these days, but was a common occurrence during his lifetime of 1812-1887. He was a great social reformer and he wrote many articles on the poor and was criticised heavily by the right-wing press of the time. It’s nice to see something never change.

Matthew Brady


Image of Abraham Lincoln taken from Morgan, K (2004) Matthew Brady, Available at: 22/03/2017).

His work was very interesting and he was the first photographer to record the American Civil War. The pose above is a very stable photograph giving off an aura of power and self-confidence,  with interest being added by the desk to the right hand of the president.

His photographs of camp life during the Civil War, were interesting as it was clear from them how the different classes of people were treated and how black people were shockingly dealt with and treated in that period too. The officers’ photographs were given great prominence and there surrounding matched their ranks, where as a photograph of a black cook, shows rubbish and other detritus at his feet and is in stark contrast to the images containing the white officers.

Reflection of the above three people.

Brassai’s storytelling methodology is very different to that of Brady, but then the developments in the art were significant in the two different ages of photography researched here. Both used posed images, but the context of the narrative is very different in approach. Brady’s images are daytime, maybe due to technological issues, where as Brassai uses the cloak of darkness to emphasise the mood in his images. Brassai’s images for me, create a feeling of movement and being in the scene, where as Brady’s images make me feel I am looking at a photograph and I am not party to the scene but merely an observer. The context of the images of both artists can easily be read, but what is excluded from the frame in Brassai’s images make me think more deeply about the setting than Brady’s. Brady’s images show a gulf in classes between different subjects, where as Brassai’s subjects all seem to be night people.