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International Women’s Day: Launch of www.frankirafflesarchive.org

The following is a guest post by Dr Alistair Scott, Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier University, marking the launch of the Franki Raffles Archive website www.frankirafflesarchive.org:

As today is International Women’s Day it seems an appropriate time to start to disseminate information about my research project into the photographic practice of Franki Raffles.

Franki Raffles.©Franki Raffles Estate
Franki Raffles.©Franki Raffles Estate

Franki Raffles (1955-94) was a feminist social documentary photographer. A St Andrews graduate, she was based in Edinburgh but travelled widely, photographing women at work and in their everyday lives, in Scotland, and across the world.

Soviet women factory workers, by Franki Raffles, 1989 [2014-4-038-5a]. ©Franki Raffles Estate
Soviet women factory workers, by Franki Raffles, 1989 [2014-4-038-5a]. ©Franki Raffles Estate
Her tragic early death, at the age of just 39, came at a time when she was establishing a reputation as a campaigning feminist photographer with her innovative work on the first ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign. Her powerful constructed images raised awareness of the issue of men’s violence against women and children with a totally new approach. The campaign was public photography on a large-scale. It was the first time that mass media, social marketing techniques had been applied in a feminist campaign.

Soviet ice skating class, by Franki Raffles, 1989 [2014-4-106-17a]. ©Franki Raffles Estate
Soviet ice skating class, by Franki Raffles, 1989 [2014-4-106-17a]. ©Franki Raffles Estate
After her death in 1994 her work as a photographer remained largely forgotten. A couple of years ago I began work on this research project to investigate and re-evaluate her creative practice, bringing together the entire output of her work – photographic prints, catalogues, negatives, contact sheets, notebooks and other materials. In December 2014, these materials were deposited in the Special Collections of the University of St Andrews Library where there are resources for conservation and storage, and the process of digitising and cataloguing over 90,000 images began. You can view the digitised images via the online catalogue here.

Soviet women, by Franki Raffles, 1989 [2014-4-032-17a].©Franki Raffles Estate
Soviet women, by Franki Raffles, 1989 [2014-4-032-17a].©Franki Raffles Estate
The aim is to trace the development of her career, investigate the key themes of her work, and assess her contribution as a social documentary and feminist photographer.  At present her work still remains marginalised and hidden, and several of her international projects have never been exhibited. Now, through the archive, her photographs can be made available to scholars and the general public. We hope to organise a retrospective exhibition which will bring her photographs to the attention of a wider public. This website is a starting point and a work-in-progress.

Dr Alistair Scott

Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier University

 

You can view our previous blog post about the Franki Raffles collection here.

 

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