Interview with Julia Martin
When did you join the Photo Co-op and why?
I joined in early 1984. I met Sarah Saunders at college in the early 1980s and we became good friends. I was working as photojournalist and Sarah was involved in a South London group of community photographers who were setting up an community photography organisation. We talked lots about it over the years and began to get interested in what it was trying to do. Eventually I asked Sarah if anyone would mind if I turned up to one of their meetings. She said it would be ok and I turned up for my first meeting at Gina's house. I never looked back.
What was your original role?
Just a photographer (I was working as professional photojournalist and sports photographer at the time) who attended meetings and after a while I was invited to be a full member of the Wandsworth Photography Co-operative.
What was happening when you joined the Photo Co-op? What was it like?
It was interesting working with lots of different people some of whom were trained photographers and others who were taking part as committed hobbyists. It was different working on a voluntary basis instead of a paid employee. There were so many different ideas people were working on and producing lots of photographs on the issues that were constantly erupting as a result of Thatcher and her right wing policies. Making decisions and keeping to them seemed to be a difficult proposition.
What was the first major project you worked on?
What were some of the most important projects you worked on for you?
Convincing the rest of the Co-op members to move to the Brixton premises and then re-applying to the Arts Council for an Incentive Funding Award. This was successful although not much money. I then set about getting funding from the then funding body the Inner City Partnership to successfully get funding to refurbish the new premises. Other successful projects I worked on was setting up a successful promotions services which gave us a great deal of commercial income to subsidise the first 6 years of Photofusion. Then getting £95,000 from Brixton Challenge funding which I was able to use as match funding to apply to the National Lottery and we got £245,000 to expand into and refurbish adjacent property to a very high standard for the time.
What was special about the Photo Co-op?/ Why was the Co-op so important?
It filled a much needed gap in community photography depicting local and London-wide opposition to Margaret Thatcher and the policies of the Tory government. There was loads going on and a great deal of demand for the both images and subsequent exhibitions produced.
'Photo Co-op filled a much needed gap in community photography depicting local and London-wide opposition to Margaret Thatcher and the policies of the Tory government. There was loads going on and a great deal of demand for the both images and subsequent exhibitions produced.'