Corinne Day, Tara, Wales, 1997 (c) Courtesy of the Estate of Corinne Day and Gimpel Fils, London.

The Photographers' Gallery is looking to "raise the final portion of funds" it needs to renovate its Ramillies Street premises in London

Author: Olivier Laurent

The Photographers' Gallery is staging a February charity auction to raise the final funds it needs to finance its major refurbishment works. In September 2010, the London-based gallery closed down for 18 months to renovate and expand its Ramillies Street premises.

The auction, which will coincide with the Gallery's 40th anniversary, will see nearly 70 lots offered to the highest bidders at Christie's in South Kensington. "The event will comprise a Live and Silent Auction," says the Gallery, with estimates ranging from £600 to £10,000. "This will be the perfect opportunity for collectors of photography to add to their collections, while supporting a new state-of-the-art photography gallery in London," say the organisers.

The lots will include prints by photographers such as Helmut Newton, Rineke Dijkstra, Sebastião Salgado, Sally Mann, Lee Miller, Martin Parr and Corinne Day among many others. In addition, 18 past winners of the Gallery's annual prize, now sponsored by Deutsche Börse, have donated works "in recognition of the Gallery's support of their work at pivotal times in their careers."

The works will be on public display at Christie's South Kensington from 12 February until the 17 February Live auction, which will see 30 lots go under the hammer. The Gallery is also planning a series of public talks during the viewing days with artists such as Simon Roberts, Blees Luxemburg and Karen Knorr. Another 30 lots will be offered in a Silent Auction.

Director, Brett Rogers, says that the auction will allow the Photographers' Gallery to raise the final funds needed for its new building. "We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the photographers and gallerists, as well as private individuals, who have chosen to donate works to the auction," she says in a statement. "Their support demonstrates their enthusiasm to help us realise our vision to create a new home for photography in London."


West Bay, 1997 © Martin Parr.

For the past four months and until the end of the year, the Gallery is undergoing massive refurbishment works that will see its Ramillies Street premises expand with three new floors in addition to the three it currently has. The new space will comprise an improved bookshop, three dedicated gallery floors, a street-level café and an education floor. The new space has an Autumn 2011 opening date.

According to the Gallery, the work will cost, in total, £8.7m. It is being partly financed thanks to a £3.5m Arts Council England grant, as well as a £1.41m remortgage against the former Ramillies Street building.

But the final design, which BJP revealed in September 2010, is a scaled-back version of the gallery's original plans. When it first talked about moving out of Great Newport Street - its location since Sue Davies founded the gallery in 1971, up until 2008 - the plan was to build a new six-storey premises on Ramillies Street with "ceilings as high as 10m in the gallery" [BJP, 12 December 2007], at a cost of around £15m. But the gallery failed to raise enough funds (until 2009 it was still looking for £7m), and so opted for a cheaper alternative. Read our full report Photographers' Gallery to close down for a year, answers criticisms.

For more information about the auction, visit www.photonet.org.uk.


waste of money

Why on earth would anyone want to give a penny to this gallery ? It's run by a bunch of self-serving twerps who are totally out of touch with the average photographer. The standard of exhibitions is poor, and it is clear that only those with a Left wing ideology stand any chance of having their work accepted. I wouldn't mind if the quality of the photography was excellent, but the prints are often utterly dire. It is clear that the gallery believes that political intent is far more important than the photographs themselves. If the Coalition wants to save money then they need look no further than this gallery. At the very least it is long over due for a major reform, to turn it into a centre of photographic excellence rather than the personal fiefdom of an unaccountable, Left wing metropolitan elite.

Posted by: Roger Evans on 07 Jan 2011 at 16:16


All photography is political Roger. I understand your concerns myself as someone who is not part of the 'metropolitan elite' (i'm in Yorkshire where the left wing originated from! .i.e 1890 ILP and all that) but not too sure what 'photographic excellence' means. If it means pictorialism or the kind of pictures we see in popular magazines or so called 'fine art' galleries which produce illustrative unchallenging work then there is no room for that at the PG. Photography should be a radical medium of communication even more so now. TPG was improving. I mean Jim Gildeberg, Sally Man, Keith Arnatt - just a few of the people exhibited at PG over the last few years. Are these guys not 'photographic excellence'. I think they are world class.

Posted by: Garry Clarkson on 07 Jan 2011 at 23:22


If the image at the top is anything to go by, they'll be at the fundraising thing for a while - "readers wives" is so 1985.

Better they hand over the funds they've already raised (along, perhaps, with the name) to one of the many UK organisations who could do an infinitely better job of fairly representing the vast diversity of modern photographic practice. The current narrow minded staple of bland, repetitive, large and passionless C-types is dull in the extreme and represents nothing beyond a narrow cliquish agenda.

Posted by: Mark on 08 Jan 2011 at 01:25


I visited the gallery in 2009 after they just moved and I was never so disappointed in anything as I was this place, a total waste of time.

Posted by: Jim on 08 Jan 2011 at 03:18

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