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. Upstairs meanwhile, 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. Over autumn 2023, those spaces are displaying six exhibitions in total, including photographs of African Caribbean funerals from the past half-century; snaps of London’s street markets; the striking studio portraits of Grace Lau; and a collection of shots from 1973, when Daniel Meadows set out across the country driving, living, and developing film in a repurposed double-decker bus.
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
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