Last Friday I sat in Salt, my cappuccino cup empty, full of a buzz only caffeine can give you. I was contemplating what to do with the rest of the free afternoon open to me and I suddenly remembered the last time I was in a cafe in central London (Tapped & Packed) was because The Photographers’ Gallery was closed to visitors for an exhibition change-over. In contrast to the last few days of glorious sunshine it was cold and wet, so it seemed the perfect cultural haven for the afternoon.
In case you haven’t heard of it, this gallery is the largest public gallery in London dedicated to photography. You’ll find it on Ramillies Street just a stones throw from Oxford Street (quite literally), a location it has called home since 2008. Its makeover began in 2010 and in May 2012 a clean, fresh, multi-floored gallery was opened for us to ponder in.
I was quite excited when I discovered its reopening via the Londonist as my interest in photography has been growing at a steady pace since I brought my DSLR. Several floors of it seemed like photography heaven! My purse was quite pleased at the free admission too!
There was a lot to take in but I had the time to spare and made my way up to the Wolfson Gallery which is currently home to hundreds of Japanese photo books you’ll find hard to get your hands on anywhere else in the city.
So as to not wear out the books with our grubby city fingers they ask you to wear the little white gloves they provide, but they’re clear about being happy for you to have a browse and even take a seat.
It was a fascinating insight into Japanese culture and I think that you could go back several times and find something new. ‘The Mad Broom of Life’ caught my eye, mainly because of its title which to me sums up what city life can be like sometimes.
On the remaining gallery floors 4 and 5 you’ll find the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. It’s is a complete contrast to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition I saw earlier this year. Whilst the photos are as awe-inspiring there’s definitely meant to be a hidden meaning or message behind the images nominated for the prize. You’ll find a haunting feeling behind Peter Hugo’s Permanent Error collection found on the top floor, as it draws on the effect of our technology-obsessed world on third-world countries.
And a slightly unnerving sense underneath John Stezaker’s use of collage…
But it’s all laid out in peaceful galleries where you’re not fighting for space to have a good look.
It’s definitely somewhere I think I’ll be returning when new exhibitions are on, it may even be handy to stop me from spending all my cash on the high street nearby!
Intrigued? Take a look at the exhibitions coming up and see what takes your fancy!
If you’re in town for the Olympics, the gallery is hosting The World in London in Victoria Park, it could be a great way to get cultural during the games!