Jo Spence

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Jo Spence (1934 - 1992) was a British photographer.

Life and work

Many of her works were self-portraits about her own fight with breast cancer. After beginning work as a studio photographer she began documentary work in the early 1970s, motivated by her political concerns. Both a socialist and feminist, she worked to represent these issues through her practice of photography. Throughout her diverse projects she is well known for her highly politicised approach to photography and the representation of her own struggles with cancer [1]. She was involved in setting up Photography Workshop (1974) and Camerawork magazine (1976) and was a founder member of the Hackney Flashers (1974), a collective of broadly feminist and socialist women who produced exhibitions such as "Women and Work" and "Who's Holding the Baby". Aged 46 she studied the theory and practice of photography at the Polytechnic of Central London, gaining a first class Honours Degree. It was at this time that she was also diagnosed as having breast cancer.


  • Putting Myself in the Picture: a Political, Personal and Photographic Autobiography, (Frances Borzello ed.). Camden Press, 1986
  • Cultural Sniping: The Art of Transgression, (Jo Stanley ed.), Routledge, 1995
  • Jo Spence: The Final Project, (Louisa Lee ed.), Ridinghouse. 2013.