Document Scotland recently enjoyed seeing these images by John Walmsley, of Wester Hailes, Edinburgh, in the 1970’s. We thank John for allowing us to share them, and news of his new exhibition and planned books. – Jeremy
30 Westburn Grove,
0131 458 3267
Mon 25th Oct to Thurs 18th Nov
Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm (closed weekends)
‘Wester Hailes, 1979’ by John Walmsley, available from:
Contains the photos plus reminiscences from those who were there at the time.
21 x 21 cms
£15 +P&P (£4 to UK & the EU)
Book launch in London.
I’m doing a short talk at the Photobook Café in Shoreditch
Tuesday 23rd November
6.30 to 9pm
“I’ve been a freelance documentary photographer since leaving Art School in 1968. In the final year I made several visits to A S Neill’s democratic school, Summerhill. ‘Neill & Summerhill: a man and his work’ was published, with a text by Leila Berg, as a Penguin Education Special, 1969.
Also, during that final year, the students asked to talk with the governors about improving the quality of the courses. They refused, and so began the longest ever sit-in at an educational institution in the UK. I took part in and photographed it from the inside, start to finish. The governors never did seriously talk with us but, instead, took us to the High Court to repossess the building. As soon as it was over, the Minister for Education instructed that all schools, colleges and universities must invite staff and students on to their Advisory Boards.
In the 70s, I lived and worked in an artists’ community run by Digswell Arts Trust. Other Fellows included, Lol Coxhill and Veryan Weston, jazz musicians, and Elizabeth Fritsch, ceramicist. During this time, I was also a part-time lecturer at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London from where many students, in particular, Zaha Hadid, and staff went on to great international success.
I’m the author or joint author of 15 books and my photos have been published in 1,000+ books worldwide.
My work, in one form or another, is at the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain Library, the National Art Library at the V&A, the V&A Museum of Childhood, Liverpool Museum, la Bibliothèque nationale de France and the University of California, San Diego, Library.
I’m one of a small group of photographers who fight infringement of our copyright. Photos are expensive to produce but most people see them as free to use. They are not, but are protected by international copyright laws. Remember that, although people are allowed to use photos for their own personal study, publishing them anywhere, even on social media, is unlawful without the copyright owner’s permission. Broadly speaking, it’s akin to walking out of the shop without paying. Please, if you see an image you would like to use in any way, ask the owner first. Why not?
Having worked in a couple of hundred schools including Summerhill, the Liverpool or Scottie Road Free School, Special Needs schools and a few independent fee-paying ones, my view is that there is no best way. But, if you could match the child, their family and the school, you will likely have a happy child and a good outcome. Just my personal view.
In 1973, I lived and worked with the Salisbury Playhouse Theatre company photographing what it was like to work in repertory theatre. I covered all rehearsals from first read-through to first-night, plus time off in the pub, shopping , the laundrette and boating on the river. Rep’ was the training ground and many of our top actors readily acknowledge they wouldn’t be where they are today without their time in rep’. A book of this material will be published in Spring 2022.
These days I shoot, take part in many exhibitions and give Zoom talks to beginning artists, photographers and writers about how to ‘Have your ducks in a row’, be business-like from the off so, if someone does try to take advantage of you or your copyright, you would have the necessary records to make them pay for what they used.” – John Walmsley