Shining Lights: Black Women in Photography in the UK 1980s-90s

2021 - 23

In partnership with MACK


We are co-publishing the first book dedicated to this legacy.


Autograph has partnered with independent arts publisher MACK, with artist Joy Gregory as editor.


This is vital cultural history, much of which has been underrepresented and unarchived.

ABOUT THE project

In the two decades before the end of the millennium, Black female photographers and artists played a significant role in shaping the cultural landscape of the UK, fostering a radical and unique voice that was a key driving force of the independent art scene of the 1980s and 1990s. With their work largely underrepresented across established institutions, publishers and art dealers, these women came to embody a spirit of self-organisation and community, curating their own exhibitions, events and publications. Artists include Poulomi Desai, Addela Khan, Ingrid Pollard, Maud Sulter, Maxine Walker and many others.

In June 2019, Joy Gregory gave an illustrated gallery lecture at Autograph about this legacy. At this sold-out event, she shared the cultural landscape at the time and some of the artists creating work. Systemic archiving before the internet was an unaffordable luxury for many, and the domain of museums and institutions. As a result, much of this history has gone uncollected and unarchived. 

We have partnered with independent visual art publisher MACK to produce the first book dedicated to this legacy, with Joy Gregory as editor.  For the first time, Shining Lights will present a broad review of the key artists of the time, offering a unique record of this radical and ground-breaking period of British photographic history.

This project is ongoing, and we will share our progress here. Keep up-to-date by joining our mailing list, and following us on Instagram and Twitter.


Can you spare a few moments? Autograph is carrying out a survey to better understand who our digital audiences are. The survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Anything you tell us will be kept confidential, is anonymous and will only be used for research purposes.

The information you provide will be held by Autograph and The Audience Agency, who are running the survey on our behalf. In compliance with GDPR, your data will be stored securely and will only be used for the purposes it was given.

You can take the survey here. Thank you!

in partnership with

Banner image: Contact sheet from the series Untitled, 1995. © Maxine Walker, Courtesy of the artist and Autograph, London.

Page images: 1) Images from Joy Gregory, Autoportrait 1989/1990, commissioned by Autograph. 2) Contact sheet from the series Untitled [detail], 1995. © Maxine Walker, Courtesy of the artist and Autograph, London.