Centre For British Photography | A Spectacular Museum Dedicated To British Photography
Britain’s best photography just got a lot more exposure.
Because the city – nay, the nation – has just got its first museum entirely dedicated to UK-based photographers. And it carries that mission statement in its wonderfully literal, no-fuss name: Centre for British Photography.
Sitting one street over from Fortnum & Mason’s, you’ll find the Centre for British Photography nestled amongst the high-end retail shops of Jermyn Street. And from the outside, it almost looks like a petite little boutique itself – but don’t be fooled, this gallery is unsuspectingly huge. A whole 8000sq ft to be precise. All that space is split into three floors which features images by photographers who were born in the UK, or who immigrated to the UK, from the period 1900 to the present day. Which, let’s face it, is pretty much all photographic history.
Starting at the bottom, the basement & ground floor spaces are both dedicated to lead exhibitions. Those exhibitions are all entirely self-generated, and drawn from the gallery’s own archive (the Hyman Collection) which boasts a rather voluminous 3,000 significant works by more than 100 artists including Bill Brandt, Bert Hardy, Daniel Meadows, Jo Spence, Karen Knorr, Anna Fox and Heather Agyepong. Kicking things off, they’ve got two lead shows – an exploration of the English home throughout the twentieth century; and a look at the empowerment of women through self-portrait.
Juno Calypso, Sensory Deprivation, 2016 © Juno Calypso
Upstairs, the mezzanine level showcase ‘in focus’ displays, which pluck a few choice selections of works from one particular period of one particular photographer’s career, giving you a little insight into their artistic process. Right now you can delve into photographs by Heather Agyepong, Natasha Caruana, and Jo Spence, but they’ll change soon.
Heather Agyepong, Wish You Were Here (6. Le Cake-Walk Spotlight on Rest), 2020 © Heather Agyepong
Overall, it’s a lovely experience, with a lot of frankly stunning imagery interspersed with wonderfully evocative photos of life in the UK taken in decades past, giving you a quite literal snapshot of what life was once like in this country. And just to draw a little focus to another excellent aspect of the gallery: it’s all completely free.
Now that’s something to cheese about.
NOTE: The Centre For British Photography is open now. You can find out more at their website right here.
Centre For British Photography | 49 Jermyn St, London, SW1Y 6LX
Feeling cultural? Check out what’s on at the best art galleries in London…
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