Happy Birthday TPG

On the 14th January 1971, a new London Gallery dedicated entirely to photography, opened its doors to the public for the first time.

Based in an old Lyons Tea room in Covent Garden, the opening exhibition was The Concerned Photographer, an exhilarating presentation of social documentary work curated by Cornell Capa and featuring such photographers as Werner Bishof, Robert Capa and André Kertész. Admission to the exhibition was the princely sum of 4/- or 20 new pence and marked one of the last outings for the shilling/pence system before 'Decimal Day' on 15 Feb 1971.  From the outset the mission of the Gallery was to champion photography’s unique value to the wider world and confirm its position as one of our most significant and universally relevant artforms. During its 50 year history TPG, has exhibited an extraordinary array of photographers, as well as looking at the role photography has played in interrogating such topical themes and issues as representation, identity, race, sexuality, gender amongst many other social, political and cultural arenas. As part of a series of event we have planned this year to celebrate our rich legacy and look forward to the next 50 years, we have created a snapshot of 50 exhibitions that we feel tell the story of both the Gallery and the development of photography over the last half century.

Visit our viewpoints to explore these and discover a rich resource of artist talks, short films, podcasts, essays, tips and guides focused on photography in all its myriad forms.

The Photographers’ Gallery was the vision – and lifelong passion - of Sue Davies OBE, a former London-based arts administrator. Frustrated by the lack of critical and institutional attention given to photography at the time, Sue determined to change this and went out on a limb, finding a suitable venue, securing funding, even mortgaging her own house in the process, to set up a home for photographers and place for lovers of photography to see, learn, discuss and develop the medium. Sadly, Sue died last year (18 April 2020, Guardian obituary) aged 87, so it feels doubly fitting that we dedicate our official birthday to her, and acknowledge her informally as the UK’s patron saint of photography.

Sue was Director of the Gallery from 1971 – 1991 and worked tirelessly to garner financial and creative support for its exceptional programme of informed, imaginative, often provocative, exhibitions. From the outset the programme encompassed a broad range of topics and genres and introduced (often unknown, always compelling) international photographers to a UK audience. Her commitment to emergent talent and the development of the form remain one of her greatest legacies for both the Gallery and photography more widely, and one we strive to uphold.

Dear TPG Friend, Subscriber, Photography Lover, we need your help more than ever. Please support us in whatever way you can so that we can continue to champion photography for at least another 50 years.