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John Walmsley

Artist Statement

"In 1968 I was a student at Guilford School of Art. The students were unhappy at the quality of the courses and asked to discuss possible improvements with the govenors. They refused and the sit-in began. It became the longest ever sit-in at an educational establishment in the UK and led directly to schools, colleges and universities inviting students and staff on to their Advisory Boards. These are photos of the events taken from the inside, start to finish."

Artist Bio

John Walmsley has been a freelance documentary photographer since leaving Art School in 1968. Walmsley's final year project on A.S. Neill and his democratic school, Summerhill, was published by Penguin Books in 1969 (updated edition planned for early 2021). His work has been published in 1,000+ books worldwide (of which he's the author or joint-author of 15).

In one form or another, John's work is also held at the National Portrait Gallery, the National Art Library at the V&A, the V&A Museum of Childhood, the Tate Britain Library and la Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Mostly, he photographs ordinary people and the interesting things they do. His first story was the sit-in at Guildford School of Art in 1968 at the end of his final year there. The book, 'Finding Our Voice', which you can buy here, is not only the catalogue of the exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary, but also records the day-by-day events throughout the sit-in (Claire Grey's diary and my photographs).

He notes "looking back, the stories which I think have stood the test of time were all self-started. If you're interested in the subject, it does seem to make a sizeable difference."


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