Gina Glover is a co-founder and Director of the Photofusion Photography Centre, London and a freelance photographic artist and lecturer. She shares with us her first five jobs.

My first job came after I had finished finishing my Fine Art degree at Chelsea Art School in London in 1967. I saw an advertisement for a full time teacher at Woodstock School in Peckham, South London, a school for maladjusted children (the terminology of the time). With a quick visit to the local educational office, I was appointed to the school to teach all subjects to a group of junior children. I had no experience in teaching nor had passed English O level, but the class I was made responsible for had experienced 9 teachers already that year. It seemed as if every day a window in the school was broken and it was a common sight to see blood on the stairs  from children’s fights. I spent, one might say survived, three years there and then decided to do a one-year postgraduate teaching qualification.

My second job, after I had finished my teaching degree, was at another special school for disturbed children in the east end of London. I found a completely different philosophy in working with these kids. I had a family group, 8 children ranging from 6 to 15 years old. The school tried to run on very therapeutic lines. The children started the day with breakfast, toast and jam and a cup of tea made on a small stove. We had animals in the classroom and more attention was paid to their emotional problems than their education. The school employed a part-time Swedish physiotherapist, and each week there was a staff meeting which included a psychiatrist to discuss particular children. I became very interested in these group discussions and thought about training to become a psychotherapist. Drugs were never a problem then in these schools; knives and fists were the worry.

My third job came after with the birth of my first child. I moved into adult education and became involved in running family workshops based in the community. I taught crafts to adults while their children worked alongside them on similar projects.

In the late 1970s I got divorced and wanted a complete change of career. I became angry at the many Tory cuts that were happening in my local borough of Wandsworth; closures of hospitals, community provision, etc. I picked up a camera in order to document what was happening around me. My camera gave me a voice, indeed a political voice. I was able to publish my pictures in a small community newspaper called Pavement. This led me to think of a career in photography but as this seemed at the time a huge leap into the unknown, I applied for a job as a picture researcher.

My fourth job was working on The Photo, a part work collection from the publisher Marshall Cavendish. As a dyslexic I found working in a busy office difficult. My office skills were terrible. Although I enjoyed the research into finding photos and meeting photographers, I soon realized I wanted to be out there taking photographs myself.

My fifth job was the realization of this ambition. In 1983, I applied with two other women photographers to the GLC’S Recreation and Arts committee for one salary to share among us. With this grant, we made campaigning exhibitions against closures and set up photographic workshops. This led to the forming of the Photo Co Op which at the beginning was housed in my front room. This then became Photofusion, a photography centre in Brixton, London. I registered as a freelance Photographer and started to get regular commissions from weekly medical, health magazines, and housing association’s annual reports.

In many ways I am still engaged in my fifth job. I am on the board of directors of Photofusion, and sit on its gallery and education committee. I run mentoring sessions there. My freelance photography is now more fine art led. I make artwork for hospitals, and am lucky enough to be invited to be artist residence in scientific environments such as genetics and IVF units. I am at present participating in a residency at the Martello Tower (a Napoleonic era fortification) in Jaywick, Essex. This is a continuation of my long-term project, Playgrounds of War, shown this year at Street Level Gallery in Glasgow. This project is an investigation into the physical and emotional detritus of abandoned military sites. My fine art practice has often involved using a pinhole camera. For my next exhibition of work in February next year (at the Horse Hospital gallery, London) I will be making a video, based on ghost stories from the Harrington secret WWll aerodrome, this will be as the latest addition to Playgrounds of War.

Gina Glover Oct 2011


We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.