“The new Photography Centre brings to life some of the V&A’s most beautiful original picture galleries and provides a permanent home for one of the finest and most inspiring collections of photography in the world,” says Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A. “The spaces and facilities allow visitors to access, explore and enjoy photography in its many forms.
“The Photography Centre encompasses more than a new gallery space. Beyond its walls lies an associated programme of research, digitisation, learning activities, publications, exhibitions, access to items in stores, and collaborations with other UK and international partners. Photography is one of our most powerful forms of global communication, and I’m thrilled that we can contextualise the past and present of this powerful medium in new and exciting ways.”
It’s an important development for photography in the UK and it opens on Friday – the V&A’s new Photography Centre, which more than doubles the museum’s existing photography space.
Those who have had the pleasure of ambling along the corridors of the 17th-century building at the heart of the museum district in Kensington, London, will recall the Victoria and Albert Museum’s high ceilings and impressive galleries, with polished floors and walls adorned with historical oil canvases, all connected by staircases embellished with intricate mosaics.
Climbing one such stairwell in a far corner of the building, you surface to face two tall, fudge-brown doors with shiny handles. The pair of robust glass cabinets framing these doors are currently empty, but will soon be packed with some 300 cameras and image-making devices. To one side, a long wooden table will be laden with models of some of the first cameras – a large format perched on a tripod, a Rolleiflex, a camera obscura and 35mm camera. Visitors will be invited to play around and put themselves in the shoes of the photographers who used these devices, pausing to peek through the lenses and take note of this new way of looking and constructing an image of the world on the other side. It is a sculptural array of the golden age of photography, the grand entrance to the new photography centre, opening its first phase to the public on 12 October.
Nicholas White is based on Dartmoor National Park, where he pursues projects that examine our relationship with our landscape, and the way we interact with our natural spaces. Since graduating from Plymouth College of Art several years ago, Nicholas’ work has been featured in a number of publications, including British Journal of Photography. He has been commended as Landscape Photographer of the Year, has won positions on two Magnum Photos workshops, and has been shortlisted for the World Photography Organisation ZEISS Photography Award for his project ‘Black Dots’. A portrait from the project has also been shortlisted for this year’s Portrait of Britain exhibition. Nicholas’ interest in nature informs all of his work, taking him away from his familiar surroundings, into bothies dotted around the UK, and now to the Southern Carpathian Mountains of Romania, where he is documenting a new European Wilderness Reserve. We spoke to Nicholas about his work away from home, in light of our OpenWalls theme, ‘Home & Away’. How did you get into photography and how has your background influenced your approach? All of my …
“It is an opportunity to meet people in the industry in a relaxed and enjoyable setting,” says Mimi Mollica, photographer and founder of Offspring Photomeet. “It’s easy to build contacts when you hang out for a couple of days with editors and publishers who share the same passion as you.” Offspring Photomeet will return to Space Studios in Hackney in June for its 5th annual portfolio review, offering one-on-one reviews with experts from Tate Modern, British Journal of Photography, The Guardian and more.
“When I returned to the work, the notion of place became the focus precisely because of what had not changed in their social landscape over 20 years”
As Peter Lavery’s 50-year project Circus Work goes on show, we revisit an interview with him published in BJP in 1997 – when the series was a mere 30 years in the making. “I started Circus Work at college [Lavery has an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art]. I was visiting home in Wakefield, and I took in a a performance of the Winships Minicircus in the Queen’s Hall in Leeds. That’s where it started.”
Designed by David Kohn Architects, the new centre will open in Autumn 2018 and more than double the V&A’s current photography exhibition space. The opening will be accompanied by a museum-wide photography festival, a new digital resource, and a new history of photography course run with the Royal College of Art. The V&A plans to run events and activities in the new centre, and will continue to expand the facility. Phase Two will see the museum add more gallery space, and create a teaching and research facility, a browsing library, and a studio and darkroom which will enable photographers’ residencies. The new centre comes as the V&A transfers the Royal Photographic Society’s collection from the Science Museum Group, which was formerly held in the National Media Museum in Bradford. The transfer adds over 270,000 photographs, 26,000 publications, and 6000 pieces of equipment to the V&A’s holdings – which was already one of the largest and most important in the world, including around 500,000 works collected since the foundation of the museum in 1852. The RPS collection includes …