New Open Eye Gallery space, Liverpool

New Open Eye Gallery space, Liverpool
Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery, one of the leading photography spaces in the UK since 1977, has recently moved to Liverpool Waterfront, where it has commandeered the lower section of one of the buildings that make up the city’s Mann Island Development
(Image credit: press)

Liverpool's Open Eye Gallery (opens in new tab) has been luring photography enthusiasts in the North West since 1977. One of the most respected photography spaces in the UK, not to mention home to a fascinating archive collection that includes seminal 1980s documentary work by photographers like Martin Parr (opens in new tab), Tom Wood (opens in new tab), John McDonald and John Stoddard (who were living in Liverpool at the time), the gallery has recently moved to Liverpool's Waterfront area, where it has commandeered the lower section of one of the modern buildings that make up the city's forward-thinking Mann Island Development (opens in new tab).

Spread over two floors and twice the size of its former space on Wood Street, the new gallery by RCKa (opens in new tab) architects offers a main exhibition area on the ground floor and a dedicated archive photography space on the first floor.

'We'd outgrown our old space and were looking for something bigger and better for doing ambitious contemporary shows, sometimes with large-scale works,' says Open Eye's director Patrick Henry. 'We also wanted to attract much bigger audiences.' Open Eye Gallery had previously catered to a modest 12,000-yearly, mostly regional, (and somewhat niche) photography crowd. The new Waterfront space, located in the city's cultural tourist hotspot, five minutes away from other arts institutions such as Tate Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum, courts much broader footfall.

'We're still absolutely a photography gallery, but we're very open about what that means,' says Henry, who joined the gallery in 2004. 'Our remit is to explore the medium and the many ways in which artists work with it, so there'll be plenty of surprises.' One of these is the gallery's exterior wall, which is being used to display a series of large-scale commissioned works.

Photographer Mitch Epstein (opens in new tab)'s first UK solo show inaugurates the new Open Eye space. Entitled 'American Power', it is a body of work that won him the 2011 Prix Pictet (opens in new tab) photography award. Dealing with the prickly issue of energy production in America and how this has affected the American landscape, Epstein investigated the idea of nature, government and corporations, photographing over 25 US states over a period of six years to present a rousing case on the effects of mass consumption.

And while the main exhibitions will showcase cutting-edge international photography, the smaller archive shows will no doubt draw in crowds too. Formed in 1980, the Open Eye Archive is made up of the work of more than 100 photographers and comprises around 1600 prints. Its bias on portraiture and documentary style makes it a distinctive collection. 'I'd say it was Liverpool's best-kept secret', says the gallery's curator Karen Newman. 'These prints have not really been used until recently, so the new archive space gives us a chance to get it out and let people see it.' Celebrating a new acquisition for the archives is Chris Steele-Perkins' 'The Pleasure Principle' exhibition, which paints a witty photographic portrait of England in the 1980s.

Spread over two floors and twice the size of its former space on Wood Street

Spread over two floors and twice the size of its former space on Wood Street, the new gallery, designed by RCKa architects, offers a large exhibition area on the ground floor and a dedicated archive photography space on the first floor

(Image credit: press)

As part of the new move, Open Eye Gallery’s exterior wall will also be used to exhibit specially commissioned pieces


(Image credit: press)

As part of the new move, Open Eye Gallery’s exterior wall will also be used to exhibit specially commissioned pieces. ’The gallery’s external facade is designed for dramatic, large-scale installations, which brings a whole different dimension to our artistic programme,’ says gallery director Patrick Henry. Kick-starting the series is ’Good Sailing’ by S Mark Gubb, 2011, which incorporates the ’dazzle camouflage’ concept, used frequently during the First World War as ploy to confuse the enemy

UK solo show inaugurates the new Open Eye space. Entitled ’American Power’

Photographer Mitch Epstein’s first UK solo show inaugurates the new Open Eye space. Entitled ’American Power’, it comprises a body of work that won him the 2011 Prix Pictet photography award

(Image credit: Mitch Epstein’s)

Featured in the Mitch Epstein exhibition: 'BP Carson Refinery, California', 2007

Featured in the Mitch Epstein exhibition: ’BP Carson Refinery, California’, 2007

(Image credit: Courtesy of Thomas Zander Galerie, Cologne)

’Las Vegas, Nevada’ by Mitch Epstein, 2007

’Las Vegas, Nevada’ by Mitch Epstein, 2007

(Image credit: Courtesy of Thomas Zander Galerie, Cologne)

UK solo show inaugurates the new Open Eye space. Entitled ’American Power’

Dealing with the prickly issue of energy production in America and how this has affected the American landscape, Epstein has investigated the idea of nature, government and corporations, photographing over 25 US states over a six-year period to present a rousing case on the effects of mass consumption

(Image credit: press)

’Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona’ by Mitch Epstein, 2007

’Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona’ 2007

Courtesy of Thomas Zander Galerie, Cologne

(Image credit: Mitch Epstein)

'Martha Murphy and Charlie Biggs, Pass Christian, Mississippi' by Mitch Epstein, 2005

’Martha Murphy and Charlie Biggs, Pass Christian, Mississippi’ 2005

Courtesy of Thomas Zander Galerie, Cologne

(Image credit: Mitch Epstein)

Situated to the right of the main gallery

The gallery shop on the ground floor, which is situated to the right of the main gallery

(Image credit: press)

Formed in 1980, the Open Eye Archive is made up of the work of more than 100 photographers and comprises of around 1600 prints


(Image credit: Courtesy of Chris Steele-Perkins)

Formed in 1980, the Open Eye Archive is made up of the work of more than 100 photographers and comprises of around 1600 prints. The first archive exhibition to take place in the new Open Eye space will be of the recently acquired body of work by photographer Chris Steele-Perkins, entitled 'The Pleasure Principle'. Pictured here is 'Hypnosis demonstration, Cambridge University Ball' by Steele-Perkins, 1989 

’Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and admirers at Conservative Party Conference’

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and admirers at Conservative Party Conference’ from The Pleasure Principle, 1989

(Image credit: Chris Steele-Perkins)

'Blackpool beach' from The Pleasure Principle, by Chris Steele-Perkins, 1989

’Blackpool beach’ from The Pleasure Principle, 1989

Courtesy of Chris Steele-Perkins

(Image credit: Chris Steele-Perkins)

’Territorial Army practise repelling a Soviet invasion’ from The Pleasure Principle, by Chris Steele-Perkins, 1989

'Territorial Army practise repelling a Soviet invasion' from The Pleasure Principle,1989

Courtesy of Chris Steele-Perkins

(Image credit: Chris Steele-Perkins)

’Photo-opportunity during Territorial Army exercise’ from The Pleasure Principle, by Chris Steele-Perkins, 1989

’Photo-opportunity during Territorial Army exercise’ from The Pleasure Principle, 1989

Courtesy of Chris Steele-Perkins

(Image credit: Chris Steele-Perkins)

ADDRESS

19 Mann Island

Liverpool Waterfront

Liverpool, L3 1BP

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