Photographer Jo Spence's breast cancer diagnosis in 1982 stimulated her most famous work, A Picture of Health, a series of photographs documenting her journey from diagnosis to treatment. The work is a response to the myriad of emotions she experienced, in particular the helplessness of being a patient in the hands of the medical profession, the fear of the unknown, and the anger at the injustice of the diagnosis. The camera, in essence, became her therapist and she termed the body of work that arose as phototherapy.
The work can make uncomfortable viewing but is the logical response of a feminist artist who was deeply committed to women taking control of their lives and their bodies. Initially a member of the East End based collective of women photographers, the Hackney Flashers, Spence's earlier work exhibited this interest in the empowerment of the female through the medium of photography.
Spence is a remarkable artist who used her work to redefine the traditional role of women. Since her death in 1992, she has been the subject of a numerous national and international exhibitions, and is found in many important contemporary art collections around the world.
The estate of Jo Spence is represented by Richard Saltoun Gallery. Please visit www.jospence.org for further information about the Jo Spence archive. For more information about the Hackney Flashers - the feminist photographer's collective that Jo Spence initiated - visit http://hackneyflashers.com.