Photographs in Context V: Double Exposure, The Minefield of Memory. Jo Spence and Rosy Martin

Fri 06 Feb 1987 - Sat 14 Mar 1987

Installation image 'Double Exposure', 1987, courtesy The Photographers' Gallery Archive

Photographs in Context V: Double Exposure, The Minefield of Memory. Jo Spence and Rosy Martin

Fri 06 Feb 1987 - Sat 14 Mar 1987


This event is part of our Past Programme

The exhibiting photographers Rosy Martin and Jo Spence have worked together since 1984 developing a new photographic practice focused on portraiture and identity studies.

"Traditionally, professional practices and philosophies in photography argue that in a portrait photograph the 'character' can only be revealed by the artistic and professional skills of the gifted photographer. Techniques are employed to 'improve' and manipulate the image to create the desired, final product for the sitter and the audience.

In photo therapy we have evolved and developed a new photographic practice. This way of working allows a whole range of subject positions or portrait possibilities to open up. These can then be examined, played with, questioned, accepted, changed or discarded. lt is a very open ended system of communication.

It has enabled us to create a new range of images, which help re-evaluate our own past, and the part that visual memories play in our highly censored and limited understanding of it. We have recalled aspects of our lives which have been repressed from popular and personal memory - memories which can offer clues to our social and psychic formation as women and help place ourselves within our authentic histories.

In order to do this we have created a range of extraordinary narrative portraits of ourselves; both as ourselves at various times in our lives, and as members of our families. Some of our work is a form of visual story-telling, creating shift narrative sequences like dream fragments. Other work takes an existing portrait and opens out the single image, re-imagining what went before and after the chosen moment and what feelings and memories lie masked within rt. Here we have used two school photographs as starting points for a new interrogation of the influences that helped to form us.

Our objective was to create a new repertoire of images of our lives as children and young women. Photo therapy is an activity between two equals, both of whom co-operate, taking turns to be photographer and sitter. lt is concerned with exploring the 'minefield of personal memory' which can then be put back into a wider context. In this sense it differs from community photography where an outside agent is the catalyst for groups/individuals to use photography as a social or political tool."

Rosy Martin and Jo Spence, extract from exhibition leaflet, 1987

Read the accompanying text by Rosy Martin and Jo Spence, 1987


This exhibition coincides with Women Photographers in Great Britain 1900-1950 and explores portrait genre and identity. 

Information for this exhibition is currently incomplete or yet to be catalogued.

We’re working to document our past programme using material in our Archive, and so information on this exhibition may become available in the future.

Can you help us? If you visited or were involved with this exhibition and have information you can share with us, we’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch using the details below.

Likewise if you spot anything incorrect, have any further information that would improve this listing, or want to share a memory of TPG please contact us at

For further details on our past programme, visit our Archive and Study Room.