We talk to Tracy Marshall-Grant about her new project – curating a touring exhibition and photobook of Markéta Luskačová’s archive.
Tracy Marshall-Grant has been familiar with Markéta Luskačová for years – her husband Ken Grant was an assistant for Luskačová in the early 90s.
However, it was only at a Spectrum-sponsored show a few years ago that she saw her work in person for the first time.
“At the time I had never seen her work printed,” says Marshall-Grant.
“I had only seen her work on Instagram or in books.”
The dream-like yet regal quality of the images of London street musicians struck a chord with Marshall-Grant.
“Her images have this sort of Czech majesty, an almost religious imagery even if they are taken at a street market in London.
“They have a quality which reminds me of old European fairy tales.”
Inspired by the work, Marshall-Grant questioned why, despite successful exhibitions and sell-out books, Luskačová remains relatively unknown outside of the photography world.
This feeling intensified after a conversation with Matthew Killip – Luskačová’s son with Chris Killip.
He spoke about the difference between how his parents’ work was regarded.
Hoping to help Luskačová reach a wider audience, Marshall-Grant decided to help curate her vast archive.
Focusing on children
The project is a huge undertaking. Large swathes of Luskačová’s work are still in negatives.
Each image has its own history and story attached.
“It is going to be enormous when it is done,” says Marshall-Grant.
“The responsibility is quite huge. I feel if I don’t do it, it is not going to happen.”
Because she is working with such a massive archive, Marshall-Grant has chosen to focus on a specific theme.
“She has probably suffered from being a single parent in a challenging time in a country where she has no family.
“I decided to look at her work depicting children. It ties into the idea of motherhood and how motherhood has dictated her career.”
Several galleries have already expressed interest in exhibiting the curated collection.
Marshall-Grant hopes the project will be ready to exhibit in 2023/24.
It will go on display at Bristol Photo Festival Edition Two before going on tour, with potential venues in Scotland and Prague.
Marshall-Grant and Luskačová have also secured a book deal with RRB Photobooks for the project.
“There is already enough for 20 books,” says Marshall-Grant. “There is definitely going to need to be a big edit.”
Away from Luskačová’s archive, Marshall-Grant has plenty else to keep her busy.
She is festival director of the Bristol Photo Festival which is about to start its autumn programme.
The festival is enjoying an extended run until the end of October due to schedule changes caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
The programme for the second edition in 2023 is already shaping up with some major shows transferred from this year’s programme.
Marshall-Grant is also working with RRB on a book of Tom Wood’s Irish work.
“Most of it has not been seen before,” she says.
“Some has been shown as part of other projects like his Men/Women series but this is the first time it has all been brought together.”
Plans for an exhibition in Ireland in 2023/24 are underway.
Marshall-Grant is also organising the final stages of an ongoing tour of Martin Parr’s Irish work.
It is currently moving to its final Irish venue before travelling to America. The tour will conclude at next year’s Paris Photo Fair.
She is also in discussions about a photobook of her husband’s work.
“My husband’s archive is enormous and is just amazing.”
Keep up with all Tracy Marshall-Grants projects on Instagram.
Main image: Woman in front of the poster, selling the jacket and other things, Bethnal Green Road, 1990 © Markéta Luskačová. Courtesy Martin Parr Foundation. From the exhibition Island Life: A portrait of Britain from the Martin Parr Foundation on display at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery as part of Bristol Photo Festival.