London’s Arts Laboratories
and the 1960s Avant-Garde

– Further Thoughts and Further Reading

David Curtis’s new book describes the survival-struggles and occasional triumphs of two pioneering artist-led organisations – the Drury Lane Arts Lab (1967-69) and the Robert Street New Arts Lab (IRAT 1969-71). These multi-art-form organisations were home to the London Filmmakers’ Co-op’s first film workshop and to TVX, the UK’s first video workshop – a forerunner to London Video Arts, which eventually merged with the London Filmmakers’ Co-op to form LUX in 1999. Both of the arts labs were based in the borough of Camden and LUX returned to the borough of its origin in 2016 where is it now based in Waterlow Park, Highgate. This online exhibition complements David’s book, adding some historic films and images to illustrate the extraordinary history which birthed our organisation.

Benjamin Cook, LUX Director, 2021

David Curtis writes ‘My book’s primary purpose was to reveal just how rich was the programme of performances, screenings, exhibitions and readings (and less medium-specific kinds of events) that took place at the two London Arts Labs, so filling a long-standing gap in the public record.  And we designed the ‘wallpaper of names’ that forms the book’s cover to suggest just how various and wide-ranging were the people and organisations involved. This online exhibition offers some images and observations that didn’t make it into the book and suggests sources of further reading for anyone keen to explore this history’.


Explore these links

  • A Computer in the Art Room: The origins of British computer arts 1950-80 Catherine Mason, ebook 2008 new edition 2021
  • Other Cinemas, politics, Culture and experimental film in the 1970s, Sue Clayton and Laura Mulvey (eds), I. B. Tauris, 2017
  • Shoot Shoot Shoot: The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative 1966-76, Mark Webber ed., LUX publishers, 2016
  • A History of 1970s Experimental Film: Britain’s Decade of Diversity, Patti Gaal-Holmes, BFI/Palgrave, 2015
  • Echoes of the Underground, a Footsoldier’s Tales, Lee Harris,  Barncott Press, 2014
  • Thanks for Coming! Encore! a Memoir, Jim Haynes, Polwarth Publishing, 2014
  • A History of Artists’ Film and Video in Britain, David Curtis, BFI Publishing, 2007
  • In the Sixties, Barry Miles, Pimlico, 2003
  • Days in the Life – Voices from the English Undergound, Jonathon Green, Pimlico, 1998
  • Performance Art Memoires, Jeff Nuttall, John Calder publishers Ltd, 1979


London’s Arts Labs and the 60s Avant-Garde by David Curtis

John Libbey Publishing, Indiana UP, Bloomington, IN, 2020