SYMPOSIUM – Assessing the legacy and impact of feminist photographer Franki Raffles

Soviet Women Making Hay’, from the series ‘Women Workers in the USSR’ Franki Raffles, (1989), Courtesy The Franki Raffles Estate

GSA & Edinburgh Napier University
Assessing the legacy and impact of feminist photographer Franki Raffles

Tuesday 25 April 2017, 11-4pm,

This symposium is a contribution to the appreciation of the current Franki Raffles exhibition Observing Women at Work at Reid Gallery, The Glasgow School of Art, 4 March – 27 April 2017.

What are the lessons for contemporary feminist and social documentary photographic practice, archive collections and exhibition curation from this work now over 20 years old?

This symposium will draw on the Franki Raffles Research project to look in depth at Raffles’ work from 1981 until her death in 1994. There will be papers that will outline the intitiatives leading to the current exhibition and charting how it was planned. Raffles died suddenly and unexpectedly and without the chance for her to select and organise her work for future preservation. For twenty years, her photographic practice has been largely forgotten and unkown. This symposium will consider the legacy of her work, in Scotland and in other coutnries, examine how the central themes of her practice are relevant to women and photography today.

Dr. Alistair Scott (Associate Professor, Film and TV Edinburgh Napier University) will introduce the breadth and range of Raffles’ photographic practice and examine the wider contexts of her career.

Jenny Brownrigg (The Glasgow School of Art Exhibitions Director), curator of the current GSA exhibition, will describe the curatorial process drawing from the three bodies of Raffles’ work which are included: To Let You Understand… (1988); Women Workers, Russia (1989); and the Zero Tolerance ‘Prevalence Campaign‘ (1992).

Dr. Rachel Nordstrom (Photographic Collection Manager, University of St. Andrews Special Collections) will outline her work within a Photography Archive and discuss the work which will be required to properly conserve Raffles’ photographs and ensure that her work can be available for exhibition and study.

Other papers will assess Raffles’ international project work and the importance of her feminist politics to her practice.

The symposium will also focus on questions about the challenges for archival collection and curation of feminist creative practice, with a focus on social documentary photography.

This symposium is supported by Edinburgh Napier University, The Glasgow School of Art and University of St. Andrews.


10:00: Reid Gallery, GSA
Observing Women at Work exhibition open for symposium attendees

11:00: Morning session: Chair Dr. Nicky Bird (GSA)
Welcome and introduction: Alistair Scott, Jenny Brownrigg

11:15: Paper 1: The Franki Raffles Archive Research Project
Alistair Scott, Edinburgh Napier University
Re-discovering Franki Raffles’ photographic career

11:45: Paper 2: Building the Archive
Rachel Nordstrom, St. Andrews University Library, Photographic Collections
How do women photographers sit within the St. Andrews Collection? What are the next possible steps with Franki Raffles Archive?

12:15: Paper 3: Franki Raffles’ Soviet photographs: bodies, machines, and the politics of representation
Marine Benoit-Blain, Ecole du Louvre, Paris

12:45: Questions

13:00: LUNCH (provided)

Afternoon session: Chair Dr. Nina Bacos (Notes Journal, TalkSeePhotography)

13:30: Paper 4: The Collective Female Subject within Franki Raffles’ Lot’s Wife
Anastasia Philimonos, University of Edinburgh Postgraduate student

14:00: Paper 5: Curatorial ethics and process relating toObserving Women at Work
Jenny Brownrigg, The Glasgow School of Art
How should the work of women photographers be reclaimed from the past and how should it be contextualised in present and for the future?

14:30: Paper 6: Fast Forward – Women in Photography
Professor Anna Fox, University for the Creative Arts
An international research networking project, 2017-2020

15:15: Panel discussion:
WildFires: creating an ecology for women’s practice in Scotland today.

Chair: Mary Ann Kennedy (Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier University)
Dr. Katherine Pahar (Founder Focas Scotland, WildFires curator, Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier University);
Sophie Gerrard (co-founder, Document Scotland)
Jolanta Dolewska (artist)
Gina Lundy (photographer/visual artist)
Jennifer Long (Associate Chair, Cross-Displinary Art Practices, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Art, OCAD University, Toronto)

Do we need a platform for women’s – and/or feminist – practice in Scotland today? Our panel will address this in relation to the founding and rapid development of WildFires since Sept. 2016, looking to past practice and its impact with a view to the future. As a new initiative, what are we working towards? What examples can we draw on? How will we ensure WildFire’s impact and sustainability as we move forward?

15:45: Conclusions

16:00: Finish

11am-4pm, Free via Eventbrite, Theatre
All ages
Book online / 0141 352 4900