John Walmsley Surrey, United Kingdom
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I've worked as a freelance documentary photographer since leaving Art School in 1968. My final year project on A.S. Neill and his democratic school, Summerhill, was published as a Penguin Education Special in 1969. My work is at the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain Library, the National Art Library at the V&A, the V&A Museum of Childhood and la Bibliothèque nationale de France.

New book out: In 1979 I had a grant from the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland) to live on the Wester Hailes housing scheme, work with the kids at the new Wester Hailes Education Centre (the WHEC), and wander the neighbourhood talking to locals and taking photos.

I particularly like photographing people, ordinary people, doing what they do. Most of the sets of pictures which have 'lasted' were ones I self-started and self-financed. They can all be seen on my new website where you can buy my prints, postcards and books.

I'd like to have more work in exhibitions so I'm very happy to have found Curator Space. I've exhibited work at the National Portrait Gallery twice and at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, but also like to show in smaller, less obvious places. When the Charing Cross Hospital, London, was opened, I put up a temporary exhibition there which was great for all the people with time on their hands. It brightened their day.

At the end of summer terms, I used to work with school kids, often the less academic but, I always thought, more enthusiastic and entrepreneurial spirits, and we'd spend the week on a project of their choice.

I now have a motto: 'Artists should be paid, too'. It seems to me that people think they should not have to pay for art. "It's there on the web so I can use it, right?" I give talks to artists, actors, photographers about what to do when someone uses your expensively produced work and refuses to pay for it. On this subject, I'm amazed that one artist will copy the work of another or incorporate it into their 'new work', without even asking or giving any credit to the original artist. I've suffered from this and it makes me very cross. Please do not do it. It's so easy to ask.

With social media, I'm a lone voice in the forest. I've read their T+Cs and read about the people who own and run those sites and the way they treat young people. I don't want anything to do with them so I don't 'Do' social media. Many artists, on the other hand, find it works for them. But, it all looks too dangerous to me. Flickr and LinkedIn are OK, though.


77160. The hands and cigar of Cedric Price, architect., Photography, 1975


77218. Walter Segal, architect., Photography, 1975


74920. Elizabeth Fritsch, ceramicist, and Veryan Weston, jazz pianist, at Digswell Arts Centre., Photography, 1977


124657. An effigy of British Prime Minister, Theresa May, outside the Houses of Parliament, during, Photography, 2019


72213. 'Macbeth', performed by students at the Rose Bruford College., Photography, 2010


71999. Cirrus clouds., Photography, 2011


90859. Students working with light from candles and tilly lamps., Photography, 1968


73734. 'Scallop' by Maggie Hambling, Aldeburgh, Suffolk., Photography, 2010


77382. President Richard Nixon arriving at the US Embassy, London, 1969., Photography, 1969


72732. Bonfires in the grounds of Summerhill School., Photography, 1968


61293. Fashion Show put on by FE students., Photography, 2009


120873. Apache helicopter at the Farnborough Air Show., Photography, 2016


75841. Gala Day at Wester Hailes, Edinburgh where I was Photographer in Residence for the Scottish , Photography, 1979


73958. Rainbow cloud., Photography, 2010


70436. Vanessa Redgrave & Tariq Ali leading the anti-Vietnam war demonstration to Grosvenor Square,, Photography, 1968


Projects and exhibitions


The Everyday

02/06/2022 — ongoing

An exhibition of the everyday.

Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield Details

Street Photography

02/06/2022 — ongoing

Selection of street photos by many photographers from around the world.

Online., Tbilisi, Georgia. Details

Summer Show

02/06/2022 — ongoing

A virtual joint exhibition organised by the FLUX gallery

FLUX gallery, Virtual, based in London Details


27/04/2022 — ongoing

A joint exhibition with many other artists in this artist-run gallery.

Espacio Gallery, London Details

Getting Your Ducks in a Row


A Zoom talk for the Futures Venture Foundation to artists about 'Getting Your Ducks in a Row', being business-like from the off so you protect your copyright and have the necessary records to be able to make people pay you when they use your work without permission.

online, Manchester based Details

Curious Minds

02/04/2022 — ongoing

5 of my photos in an exhibition with many other artists

Virtual, organised by FLUX REVIEW, London Details


26/03/2022 — ongoing

Chronos exhibition explores the complex nature and passage of time; how we relate to the past, how it influences our actions in the present and how we deal with our expectations for the future. It invites viewers to reflect on our awareness of time, how we organize our lives around it, and also the way we experience it.

Echo's Studio, Sao Paolo, Brazil. Details


22/02/2022 — ongoing

Collect Art was set up to promote local Georgian artists but now also accepts work from other artists. My work is in a physical show in Tbilisi and also online here:

'Collect Art' Gallery, Tbilisi, Georgia Details

Talk to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ)


I'm a member of the NUJ and this was a talk to the Edinburgh branch about my self-published book, 'Wester Hailes, 1979', based on a community on the edge of the city. I also talked about other projects I've done and then about how creative artists can protect their copyright, fight plagiarism and copyright infringements and derive an income...

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Zoom, Edinburgh, Scotland Details

Talk to the Society of Authors


I'm also a member of the Society of Authors and had noticed there could be problems when authors used images. This talk was about where to source images and if you had a right to use them. It introduced individual artists' (incl' photographers) websites as well as the international picture libraries and confirmed that, for most images,...

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Zoom, Guildford, Surrey Details

ING Discerning Eye

12/11/2021 — ongoing

The annual exhibition of small artworks for sale to benefit this charity. Last day is Sunday 21st Nov 2021

Mall Galleries, the Mall., London Details

Wester Hailes, 1979 exhibition

25/10/2021 — ongoing

An exhibition of photos I took in Wester Hailes while on a grant from the Scottish Arts Council (as was) in 1979. It was held to coincide with a new self-published book of the photos complemented by reminiscences from people who were there at the time. Book available...

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WHALE Arts, Edinburgh Details

100 years of the Magistrates Association

11/10/2021 — 23/10/2021

Celebration of the wide range opf work covered by Magistrates. My section was on the Right of Association, three photos from the sit-in at Guildford School of Art, 1968.

D-Contemporary, London Details

The Virtual Art Fair 2021

30/04/2021 — ongoing

Wide range of artworks. Mine were photos of Stéphane Grappelli, Vanessa Redgrave, a landscape, art school sit-in from 1968

Online only: Details

Inner city: Out of Place

24/04/2021 — ongoing

The many facets of inner ciities. My two photos were of earthquake damage in Armenia and a beggar on the streets of Moscow.

Online only: Details

Socially Engaged Art Salon

25/11/2020 — ongoing

I'm exhibiting my photos of the student sit-in at Guildford School of Art, 1968, which became the longest ever at an educational institution in the UK and led directly to students and staff being invited, for the first time, on to the Advisory Boards of schools, colleges and Unis.

Since 2016, SEAS has put on a successful programme of...

[Read more], Online Details

Kensington & Chelsea Art Week

18/10/2020 — ongoing

Little Voices is a place for addressing some of the greatest challenges of our time through collective creativity. See how artists today are mobilising action on climate change and inequality to create a better tomorrow.

Online at: Details

'100 Years of Justice'

01/09/2020 — ongoing

Online show here: It celebrates the first 100 years of the Magistrates Association covering the areas of life which magistrates commonly deal with. My section is on Freedom of Association.

Online. Physical show will be in 2021 Details

'Stand Up', celebrating International Women's Day

07/03/2020 — ongoing

The show is now online with a virtual tour here: The show in-gallery is closed.

Artcore Gallery, Derby Details

A Black and White Christmas

19/12/2019 — 11/01/2020

Had 30 B&W photographs as a rolling projected programme at the gallery.

Pineapple Black Arts, Middlesborough Details

'Falling Walls', mail art exhibition.

01/11/2019 — 16/11/2019

'Falling Walls' exhibition, part of the 'Berliner Zeitgeist' project at the Stroud Valleys Artspace, Stroud, Gloucestershire. This was an exhibition of Mail Art to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

Stroud Valleys Artspace., Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK. Details

Anna Scher Children's Theatre, 1972.


In 1972, I spent many happy evenings photographing the Anna Scher Childen's Theatre in Islington. As with my other projects, I did it because it was interesting, fascinating, and was great for these local kids. This publication is one of the six of my work published by Café Royal Books: The lad on the cover is a...

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Islington, London Details

'Finding Our Voice'

26/05/2018 — 08/07/2018

In 1968, I was a student at the Guildford School of Art. We were unhappy at the quality of teaching and structure of the courses so the students and concerned staff met to discuss what could be done and then asked to talk with the governors. They refused again and again so we began a sit-in which became the longest ever at a UK educational...

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Guildford House Gallery, Guildford Details

Protest and standing up for yourself.


Liverpool John Moore's University held a four day festival called, 'Time Tunnel', and invited me to talk to, mainly, Fine Art students about protest, after my involvement with the long sit-in at the Guildford School of Art in 1968. I'm concerned that students these days are not given enough real life advice for a very demanding business...

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Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool Details

Liverpool Free School exhibition

20/07/2017 — 01/10/2017

In 1971 I had photographed the Liverpool Free School. In 2017 the photos were exhibited at the Bluecoat in Liverpool as part of the 'Abacus' exhibition. Also known as the Scotland Road or Scottie Road Free School it was founded and run as an alternative to normal school by two teachers, John Ord and Bill Murphy, who worked with the kids and...

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Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, UK Details
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