SOURCE PHOTO: 27 / SEPTEMBER / 2011
THE NEW PHOTO GALLERIES
A US Perspective
Posted by Richard West
A number of photography galleries are reopening in the UK over the coming months. In the latest issue of Source Simon Denison has been to visit the redeveloped galleries: Open Eye in Liverpool, The Photographers' Gallery in London, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and Focal Point Gallery in Southend.
Mostly established in the 1970s, this group of galleries is part of a larger ecosystem dedicated to photography including museum collections (like the National Media Museum) and various commercial galleries. They have a regional character, are distributed fairly evenly across Ireland and the UK, and serve a role in representing those regions (for example in the Valleys Project or the Belfast Exposed Archive). Nevertheless, they tend to have eclectic programmes, including international work and photographers that haven't been shown before. In other words their remit as publicly funded galleries is to do the local and the experimental. But to get a perspective on what these galleries do I thought it would be interesting to speak to someone who had experience of both the UK and US gallery systems. Susan Bright was formerly a photography curator in the UK but now lives in New York, talking via Skype I asked her how UK galleries compared to their US counterparts.