Marketa Luskacova is a Czech-born photographer who spent much of her life living and working in the UK. She is famous for her documentation of life in remote Slovakian villages and the East End markets of London. Luskacova is considered by many to be one of the best social photographers of her age.
Marketa was born in Prague in 1944 and grew up in Czechoslovakia in the era of Communist Party rule. In 1963 she chanced upon a group of Pilgrims travelling to the city of Levoča and became determined to document those cultural and religious traditions which were under threat of erasure. She studied Sociology at Charles University, graduating in 1967 with a thesis entitled Pilgrimages in Slovakia. She then went on to study photography at FAMU film and TV school in Prague.
Luskacova emigrated to the UK in 1975. In London Markéta discovered a whole new inspiration for her work in the city’s markets, especially those of Brick Lane and Spitalfields. Short of money, she shopped in these markets for cheap produce but also found a rich and varied subject matter on which to focus her lens. When her son was born in 1977, she would push him around the streets in his pram and take photographs of the people and places she encountered. She would spend as much time as possible with her subjects, winning their trust and really getting to know them.
Writing in The Guardian in 2012, Marketa said, “In the Czech language, the verb to photograph means to immortalise. When I came to Britain in 1975, I was shocked to learn that in English, the equivalent is to shoot. Even after 37 years here, I find that notion fairly foreign.”