Professor Val Williams
Val Williams is a writer, curator and Professor of the History and Culture of Photography at the University of the Arts London. She is a co-editor of the Journal of Photography&Culture and has curated exhibitions for the Barbican Art Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Media Museum, Tate Britain and the British Council. From 1999–2002 she was Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Hasselblad Center in Sweden and was the founder co-director of the Shoreditch Foto Biennale (1996, 1998). Her previous publications include The Other Observers (1986), Illuminations (with Liz Heron, 1995), Who's Looking at the Family (1994), The Dead (with Greg Hobson, 1995), New Natural History (with Greg Hobson, 1999), Look at Me (1998), Anna Fox: Photographs 1983–2007 (2007); How We Are (with Susan Bright, 2007) When We were Young: Street and Club Portraits byDerek Ridgers (2008); Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80s (2011). Her essay in the new MaxStrom book 'No Nostalgia' about Swedish documentarist Sune Jonsson was published in February 2014. This text was commissioned as the first comprehensive survey and contextualisation of Sune Jonsson's photographic work in the 1950's, 60s and 70s.
Val has contributed three new chapters to Martin Parr: Photographs (Phaidon) which will be published later in 2014.
Val also writes for magazines including Jocks and Nerds and Photoworks.
Recent exhibition projects have included: Daniel Meadows: Early Photographs at the National Media Museum, 2011; A Day in the World (with Brigitte Lardinois) in Stockholm and Gothenburg, 2012; and Closer: Photographs by Stuart Griffiths for the Brighton Photo Fringe Open. Closer was shown at LCC in 2013, before touring the UK. More recently, Val curated Life On The Road with Tom Hunter at LCC in February 2014.
She is the recipient of two major Research grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (now AHRC), to investigate the activities and presence of Acme artists in east London during the Stop the M11 Link Road campaign, and also to explore the roots of the new independent photography in Britain in the early 1970s.
For the Photography and the Archive Research Centre, she has initiated and mentored numerous projects, including a series of weekly seminars around ideas of the archive for Tate Modern, the Nostalgias conference at the Winter Gardens, Margate ; the ‘Finds’ exhibition programme, the Considering Vietnam conference at the Imperial War Museum and the recent Moose on the Loose Biennale of Research which took place at LCC and at venues across London. Val is currently working with Tom Hunter on Life on the Road, an exhibition of work from the 1990s, which will open at LCC in Green Week, February 2014. She is working on an ongoing basis with the photographer Marjolaine Ryley and Streetlevel Photoworks, Glasgow on the project Growing up in the New Age.
Val is the editor of PARC’s biennial publication Fieldstudy, which is now approaching its twentieth edition. For Fieldstudy she has worked with photographers including: Daniel Meadows, Stuart Griffiths, Marjolaine Ryley; Alison Marchant, Wiebke Leister; Peter Mitchell; Anna Fox and Euan Duff; the publication has reflected many of PARC’s core research interests, and those of its members.
She is one of three editors of the Journal of Photography &Culture, published by Bloomsbury, which she co-founded, and which is now a leading peer –reviewed academic journal.
She is also a member of a number of research hubs and communities of practice, including Photography and the Contemporary Imaginary, led by Wiebke Leister and Paul Tebbs.
Val is Director of Studies for four PhD students, Wasma Mansour, Corinne Silva, Simon Robinson and Noni Stacey. Information about their research can be found on this website.
During 2013, the Library of Birmingham acquired the Val Williams Archive for its collection, where it will form part of a research resource which also includes the archives of Daniel Meadows, Paul Hill, Nick Hedges and John Blakemore, forming a basis for the study of post-war British independent photography, teaching and curatorship. The Archive consists of 100 boxes, containing papers, illustrations and correspondence around Val’s projects from the early 1970s onwards, and includes a set of letters from Martin Parr, book dummies from the exhibition Who’s looking at the Family, and a comprehensive collection of documents around the 2007 Tate Britain exhibition How We Are.
A full list of Val’s research outcomes from 2000 onwards can be found in the repository UAL Research Online:
Professor Val Williams is Director of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre at LCC and responsible for the initiation by the Centre of new research projects, both large and small. The Centre publishes its research findings in the biannual publication Fieldstudy and has organised study days at LCC and LCF (Out of the Box: LCC 2003 and Unfolding the Tissue: LCF 2004, The Elephant Vanishes: LCC 2005).
Val's personal research revolves around photography. She is also the author of 'Anna Fox Photographs 1983-', a mid career retrospective of the work of Anna Fox, published by Photoworks in 2007. She curated the exhibition and conference at the University of Sussex: Hidden Photographic Archives from the 1970s. (October 2005) and received AHRC Funding for The New British Photography 1967-1981 and ROAD: Artists and the Stop the M11 Link Road Campaign. In 2005 she was joint curator of Magnum Ireland for the Irish Museum of Modern Art and joint author of Magnum Ireland (Thames and Hudson). She was awarded the Dudley Johnstone medal for curation by the Royal Photographic Society in 2005.
In 2006, she co-curated (with Susan Bright) the exhibition 'How We Are: Photographing Britain' for Tate Britain. The exhibition opened in 2007, accompanied by a catalogue.
She is an editor of the 'Journal of Photography and Culture', forthcoming from Berg in 2008. Daniel Meadows was one of a group of photographers trained at Manchester Polytechnic in the early 1970s, who spearheaded the independent photography movement in Britain, breaking with tradition and infusing the medium with new energies and ways of seeing. In 2009 she was awarded a UAL sabbatical to work on the Meadows' Archive. She has now been working in the archive since October. Two interns from the University of Wales have been appointed, and the first research seminar was held in early November and was attended by Paul Reas (University of Wales) and Peter James (Birmingham Central Libraries). For this first research period, she is concentrating on the Meadows papers, and the first research paper she has presented explores the Free Photographic Omnibus project. She has also presented a paper at the Communities and Archives seminar organized by London Met University and held at the Women's Library (November 2009). The Meadows Archive is also explored in a section in the forthcoming issue of the 'Journal of Photography and Culture'.