Cambridge Darkroom – 5 Year Overview

This article, by John Stathatos, appeared in the October 1989 edition of Creative Camera magazine.
It is a pragmatic and informative analysis of the role the Darkroom venture played in the consolidation of photographic art practice during the latter part of the 20th century.

A PDF copy of the whole article, including images, may be downloaded here.

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In Summary

The Cambridge Darkroom was something of a paradox. It was small, under-funded, provincial and committed to its local and educational roots, yet for much of its life it enjoyed a national and international reputation at the forefront of photographic art practice.

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The Later Years

The writers ceased to be involved in the day-to-day administration of the gallery from 1990 onwards, hence the material available for this later history is rather sparse. We would welcome contributions from anyone involved during these years. Please contact the author via the contact form.

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The First Five Years

The Cambridge Darkroom was formally constituted as a company limited by guarantee on 11th January 1984. The objects for which the company was established were stated as:

‘to further and advance the education of the public in the art of photography and to promote public knowledge, appreciation and understanding thereof.’

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St Matthews Photo Workshop

In October 1978 six people with a passion for photography met in the Dewdrop Inn Public House, Gwydir Street, Cambridge to form the St Matthews Photo Workshop. The Workshop group published four aims:

  • to make a photographic record of the people and buildings of the St Matthews area [an undeveloped Victorian inner-city part of Cambridge, UK]
  • to explore the particular social and environmental qualities of the area through photography
  • to make people in Cambridge more aware of the qualities of the area through photography; and
  • to find and record old photographs of the area.

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Cambridge Darkroom – Introduction

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. Continue reading “Cambridge Darkroom – Introduction”