Photography is a curious, pluralistic medium: part art and part science; the stuff of both holiday snaps and glossy advertising; accessible to the raw novice yet capable of calling on the highest skill levels; a medium for literal visual documentation of our world and a way of exploring our personal inner visions.
Its mass appeal lies in this diversity and the challenge of reconciling its many forms into a unified statement of the medium’s potency. The Cambridge Darkroom rose to that challenge.
From its beginnings as a small community group in the backstreets of the city of Cambridge, UK, the Cambridge Darkroom rose to a level of prominence in the UK art and photography world that far exceeded the original ambitions of its founders. This was due in no small part to the expertise and dedication of its staff over the years, as well as to its contributors and supporters.
Now that the original has disappeared from the real world (a new group of young photographers in Cambridge adopted the name in recent years) we thought it would be appropriate for its history to live on in the virtual world at least. A Google search for “Cambridge Darkroom” returns over 4500 hits; many of these are references to artists that had exhibited there during its 20 years’ existence. This says something about its role as an enabler and facilitator for artists and photographers working and exhibiting during the closing decades of the 20th century.
To add to the wealth of general knowledge and information that the web aspires to provide, these pages aim to give some background to the Darkroom itself: how it came into existence, how it developed, how it was run, what it achieved, and how it ended. Written from the standpoint of two of the original founders, whose involvement only really occupied its early years, it is inevitably incomplete at the moment. We hope to engage people who worked there, exhibited there, or just visited, to give their perspective and add to this history over time.
The history of the venture is divided into several parts, it starts here.