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The Big Picture: Jo Leahy


Stroud-based photographer Simon Pizzey met Jo Leahy, artistic director of Stroud Valley Artspace (SVA).

“My favourite picture is this black and white photo of my family and I from around 1969. I am standing in front (aged about three) with my older sister Kate and my older brother Andrew with gormless look on his face! Also, my cousins Richard and Philip are standing with us. I look a bit confused and a bit scared. I think was a very normal emotional state for me! I love seeing my cousin Anne trying to climb the fence behind us trying to get in the picture! My sister Julia is being held in my grandad’s arms at the front door at the back of the photo.

Jo Leahy 1969 sml | The Big Picture: Jo Leahy

“I love this photo because it was from a very memorable time in my childhood when we all lived with my grandparents in Bermondsey, South London. The door was always open, the house and street was always full of kids and uncles and aunties buying us cream sodas for us to drink while we watched Top of the Pops. My grandparents didn’t have a bathroom or hot water, so bath time was a big night heating up water and pouring it into a tin bath in the sitting room.

Jo Leahy cat sml | The Big Picture: Jo Leahy

“My favourite object is this painting by my daughter Moina. It’s of charity, a white fluffy toy cat that she bought in a charity shop / art installation by the artist and writer Miranda July in Selfridges. It’s become Moina’s art mascot and the painting brings a smile to my face when I come home.”

Jo Leahy is artistic director of Stroud Valleys Artspace which is an artist studio, gallery and events space in John Street, Stroud. She set up SVA over 25yrs ago with her co Director Neil Walker. SVA runs a year-round programme of exhibitions, music events, talks and film screenings.

SVA organises the much-celebrated Jazz Stroud, a highly regarded music festival which takes place every year as well as the much-loved Site Festival and Open Studios where more than 200 artists open their studios and exhibit work to the public across the Stroud District.


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