British photographic history

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10:45 Impressions Gallery Celebrates Historic Double Anniversary

One of Europe’s oldest and most important specialist photography galleries is celebrating a double anniversary throughout the summer of 2017. Impressions Gallery, originally established in 1972 in York, celebrates 10 years since its relocation to Bradford in 2007, as well as 45 years as a photography gallery and charity.

Impressions Gallery was founded at a time when photography was shunned by major museums. Impressions brought many photographers to the British public for the first time, notably the very first show by the then unknown Martin Parr and Daniel Meadows in 1972. From humble origins in a room above a shop in York, the gallery has gone from strength
to strength, playing an immeasurable role in championing photography in the UK. In the last 45 years, more than 630 artists have exhibited, including many well-known names such as Bill Brandt, Cecil Beaton, Dorothea Lange, and
Imogen Cunningham.

The gallery’s speciality is supporting both emerging and overlooked photographers to make major new work, helping Anna Fox, Helen Sear, Joy Gregory, Trish Morrissey and Peter Mitchell to achieve international acclaim. After outgrowing a succession of buildings in York, Impressions moved to Bradford at the invitation of Bradford Council, opening the first purpose built public funded photography gallery in the UK in August 2007.

The charity is now an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, supported by Bradford Metropolitan District Council. While Impressions Gallery’s exhibitions are ever-changing, its mission as a charity remains the same: to help people understand the world through photography.

To celebrate its double anniversary, Impressions Gallery is premiering Field Work, the first retrospective of Bradford-born Liza Dracup, whose mesmerising images explore the natural history of the British Isles. The gallery is also presenting a summer of special events, including pop-up photo booths, a VIP party, and a unique exhibition in a secret Bradford historical gem. A family-friendly celebration will mark Saturday 19 August, the 10th anniversary of Impressions opening its doors in Bradford.

Anne McNeill, Director of Impressions Gallery since 2000, said “Impressions has always been visionary, and never afraid to take creative risks. More than ever, photography plays a huge part in our lives, and people continue to look
to Impressions to be captivated, informed and inspired. I’m delighted to be celebrating this important double anniversary, and would like to thank all the visitors, artists, funders and supporters who have been part of the Impressions story over the last 10 years in Bradford and 45 years in Yorkshire”.

Nick Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said “Impressions Gallery has long played a crucial part in the promotion of photography in Britain and beyond. The gallery’s exhibitions are always exciting, innovative and show the very best contemporary photography from the UK and further afield. I’m sure that the celebratory summer events will be a big hit with locals and visitors alike.

Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, said “Impressions has mounted
significant exhibitions, bringing artist of international renown to our city. The gallery has forged strong community links, and provides excellent experiences for both our residents and visitors”.

Martin Parr, international Magnum photographer, said “Impressions Gallery is as vital today as when it opened in 1972. I had my first show there, and many photographers have done the same. The policy of showing new work and emerging photographers remains central to the gallery”.

Impressions Gallery attracts around 50,000 visitors annually to its Bradford space in addition to those visiting its touring exhibitions. In York the Gallery saw around 30,000 visitors in its final year. 

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