New online exhibition – Raissa Page: Life Through a Different Lens

When the Being Human Festival event organisers announced this year’s (very topical!) theme as ‘New Worlds’ we knew that the recently catalogued Raissa Page collection had a lot to offer.

As a self-taught photographer Raissa Page used documentary photography to capture the lives of marginalised groups at times of social change during the 20th century. She was a founder member of the trailblazing all-female FORMAT Photographic Agency in the 1980s. Her images are of different times and other places, but the themes of feminism, politics, anti-nuclear protest, institutional care, ageing, childhood, and the environment resonate today.

We can learn a lot about a new world by looking at the past.

Raissa’s photographs are always striking and often emotive, but now was an opportunity to explore the images and reactions to them. This prompted our event tagline-

‘Explore Raissa Page’s most thought-provoking images through the eyes of historians, photographers, archivists, and most importantly, your own.’

On the evening of Wednesday 18 November 2020 we were excited to welcome 80 people to our online event ‘Raissa Page: Life Through a Different Lens’ as part of the Being Human Festival events at Swansea University, which were being coordinated and delivered by our colleagues in the Cultural Institute.

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  • David Johnston-Smith, gave an informative overview of Raissa’s life from childhood until her career in photography. David previously catalogued the Raissa Page Collection and is now undertaking research in preparation for a book on Raissa Page,
  • Photographer and friend of Raissa, Anita Corbin, gave a personal account of Raissa’s photographic career and impact

Sian Williams, Head of Research Collections at Swansea University then launched our new online exhibition. It showcases images chosen by historians, academics, photographers, and friends of Raissa Page, and records their responses to them. We are also encouraging people to leave their own responses and comments on the exhibition pages.

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Raissa Page: Life Through a Different Lens online exhibition

The event ended with some insightful discussions between David, Anita and the audience about the images. They focused on historical and technical aspects, but also on the impact of the image and Raissa’s work. We were pleased to see some of Raissa’s friends and colleagues in the audience, which gave the event a personal and heart-warming touch. 

If you missed the event but would like to find out more a recording is now available-

We also enjoyed reading this fantastic review of the event by Swansea University student Marta:

Please do have a look at the online exhibition, click on the images to read the responses and leave us your thoughts!


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