Photographer Angela Christofilou started taking photographs at protests in 2015 at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, and has since gone on to document several protest movements.
Her archive contains digital photography from contemporary campaigns and demonstrations in the UK, including the Grenfell Tower Protest, the Women's March on London, and London Pride.
Christofilou is also an actor, voice-over artist and singer / songwriter, who started experimenting with street photography in the US while on a theatre tour, before later getting involved in protest photography. Her photography has been featured in various publications including The Independent and shared by movements and campaigns to raise awareness of their message.
In this latest “Lives from the Archives”, where we chat to people whose stories are included in our collections, we caught up with Christofilou to learn more about her archive. We're honoured to hold her images as part of our Photographic Collections and you discover more about her work here.
What can be discovered in your archive?
The archive starts around late 2015. What you will discover is a documentation of people standing up for their rights and for what they believe in a selection of protests, small and large scale.
I find the lesser-known protests with the least attendance, that never got a lot of attention or coverage, very powerful.
This includes Trans rights and sex workers' rights protests, actions led by women’s groups against government cuts to domestic abuse services, justice for cleaners and fast-food workers strikes, and a protest led by a group of 12 people from the "Disabled People Against Cuts" movement protesting outside Facebook HQ.
I’ve also documented student occupations at Cambridge and Goldsmiths universities.
You can browse through lots of images from the School Strike for Climate and climate change movement, marches in memory of the Grenfell Tower victims, Women’s Marches, Pride, Windrush, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Most of this archive includes protests in London, however, I photographed a protest against police brutality in Paris led by the Gilets Jaunes in 2019 (ACT XII) and I’ve also documented protests at Yarls Wood detention centre, and many more...
How did your archives end up at Bishopsgate Institute?
I got in touch and met the Special Collections and Archives Manager Stefan Dickers – he’s so great and he loved the photos! I wanted to find a home for these images; I had lots and lots of pictures and didn’t really know what to do with them at the time. I thought maybe they could come to use at some point in the future if they are properly archived. There are also times that Stefan has really inspired me to continue with this documentation.
Why did you choose the Institute as a home for your archives?
The existing archive collections at the Institute, the historic library, a deep understanding of protest movements, the LGBTQ+ section and, of course, the people at the Institute and their openness, are all reasons I chose it as a home for these photos.
I felt that the people in the images I was capturing and their cause, would be respected and properly understood.
If someone came to look at your archive, what would you hope they'd learn?
I hope they may feel inspired to stand up for their rights and for what they believe in.