Format Photography Agency 1983 - 2003
Past display archive
21 January - 8 August 2010
Dame Joan Mary Ruddock
by Pam Isherwood, for Format Photographers
31 March 1983
Format has a unique place in British photographic history. It is the only agency that consisted of, and promoted the work of contemporary women photographers. Founded in 1983, the agency encouraged members to develop their creativity and careers. Format's eight founding members were Anita Corbin, Sheila Gray, Pam Isherwood, Jenny Matthews, Maggie Murray, Joanne O'Brien, Raissa Page and Val Wilmer.
The photographers portrayed people and issues both in Britain and abroad, which were under-represented in the mainstream media of the time. Format documented epoch changing events such as the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp (1981-2000) and the 1984-5 Miners' Strike; and was itself an important part in movements that brought about social change.
The portraits in this display represent significant figures in the period 1983-2003, including Julie Christie, Angela and Maria Eagle, Helena Ann Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws and Joan Ruddock. In 2003, despite the agency's many achievements, the difficult decision to close was reached. Format's ideals and outlook are maintained in the continuing work of its successful former members.
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
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Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
- Charlotte Wolff (NPG x133124)
- C.L.R. James (NPG x133130)
- Ursula Margaret Owen; Dame Carmen Callil; Harriet Spicer (NPG x133134)
- Dame Joan Mary Ruddock (NPG x132185)
- Annie Whitehead (NPG x133131)
- Julie Christie (NPG x133129)
- Jo Spence (NPG x133137)
- Linda Bellos (NPG x133133)
- Sarah Miles (NPG x133128)
- Helena Ann Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws (NPG x133132)
- Jacqueline Moir ('Jackie') Forster (NPG x133126)
- Margaret Busby (NPG x133136)
- Katharine Rumens (NPG x133138)
- Angela Eagle; Maria Eagle (NPG x133135)
- Marion Milner (NPG x133125)
- Steven Rose; Hilary Rose (NPG x132184)
- Linda Bellos
- Margaret Busby (Nana Akua Ackon)
- Dame Carmen Callil
- Julie Frances Christie
- Angela Eagle
- Maria Eagle
- Jacqueline Moir ('Jackie') Forster
- C.L.R. James (Cyril Lionel Robert James)
- Helena Ann Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws
- Sarah Miles
- (Nina) Marion Milner (née Blackett)
- Ursula Margaret Owen
- Hilary Ann Rose (née Chantler)
- Steven Peter Russell Rose
- Dame Joan Mary Ruddock
- Katharine Rumens
- Joanna ('Jo') Spence
- Harriet Spicer
- Annie Whitehead
- Charlotte Wolff