skip to main content

Photography as a Medium of Artistic Importance & Social Relevance

Published date
24 Jul 2018

Impact on cultural life through new insights, by challenging assumptions, and raising awareness of the role of photographic practice in the public realm

Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC)

PARC study photography as a medium of artistic importance and social relevance, recognising photography’s many roles in the art world, including reportage, autobiographical practice and social and political education.

The Centre’s underpinning research is represented by work undertaken at UAL by Professors Val Williams (PARC Director) and Tom Hunter, Brigitte Lardinois (PARC Deputy Director), Jananne Al-Ani (Research Fellow), and Paul Lowe (Course Director, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography).

The significance and reach of impact on cultural life is evidenced by audience and publication figures, widespread media coverage, awards, commissions, third party funding, prestigious partnerships and collaborations, and acquisition of created work and archives by major institutions. The ability of the work to raise awareness of socio-economic and political issues is demonstrated by collaborations with the independent Post-Conflict Research Center, Sarajevo, and Age UK, Hackney. Work has also significantly influenced policy and practice at Save the Children, UK.


Impact is also on the field of photography and collecting more generally.

  • In January 2013 Williams’ archive became part of the photographic holdings at the new Birmingham Library.
  • Hunter’s Living in Hell and Other Stories (2005) resulted in acquisition of Hunter’s work by the National Gallery, where it is now on permanent display. Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present (2012), the National Gallery’s first ever group photography and painting show, included Hunter’s The Death of Coltelli which was acquired for The Wilson Centre for Photography. Hunter’s Punch Professors was acquired by the V&A adding a contemporary component to their existing archive of Punch photography.
  • Al-Ani’s The Guide and Flock are in the Darat al Funun collection in Jordan; Shadow Site I is part of the Arts Council England Collection and the collection of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and Shadow Site II is part of the Abraaj Capital Collection, Dubai; the collection of the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création, Paris; and four stills from the film are in the V&A collection.

Related links

View the research of Val Williams

View the research of Tom Hunter

View the research of Brigitte Lardinois

View the research of Jananne Al-Ani

View the research of Paul Lowe