British photographic history

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Exhibition: Radical Visions - The Early History of Four Corners and Camerawork 1972-1987 / from 15 June

The exhibition provides a rich source of interest for understanding the 1970s and 1980s culture of radical film and photography that engaged with feminism, anti-racist protest, community activism and political struggle, and documented working class life and conditions.

It tells the fascinating story of Four Corners and Camerawork, two innovative cultural organisations characteristic of the radical 1970s and early 80s, whose work aimed to ‘demystify’  the process of film and photography and influenced a generation of practitioners. This included  the renowned Camerawork magazine, and Four Corners’ work with local, underprivileged young  people like Lil Warren and Ruhul Amin, who went on to have impressive careers in the arts.

It will include archive material and photographs from Daniel Meadows, Nick Hedges, Peter  Kennard, Mike Goldwater, Paul Trevor, Jenny Matthews, Ed Barber, Jo Spence, Susan Meiselas and many others, alongside exhibition posters, extracts from Four Corners’ films Nighthawks, Bred and  Born and A Kind of English, oral histories and an accompanying public talks programme. The collection’s visually inspiring and socially engaged material offers strong appeal to new, younger  audiences.

A new digital archive launches alongside the exhibition, bringing this little-known part of British  cultural history to general audiences for the first time. This includes all 32 issues of the renowned Camerawork magazine made available online for the first time. Loraine Leeson, Chair of Four Corners and early Camerawork contributor says: “I am delighted
that this significant work is at last being documented and made available to the wider public. The impact that Four Corners and Camerawork had on the UK’s independent film and photography sectors cannot be underestimated. Their work enabled many people from underprivileged and non traditional backgrounds to develop significant artistic work.

Four Corners Archive project is made possible by a grant of £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Over 50 volunteers have contributed to the project since 2016, gaining skills in archive research, digitization and oral history techniques. Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players,  this exciting project will explore and digitise an archive of work relating to 1970s and 1980s East End film and photography. HLF is pleased to support Four Corners as it strives to make the British history of community-arts movements more accessible to audiences.

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