Get to Know: Open Eye Gallery

Liverpool City Council recognises the huge impact that culture has on the city’s economy, ambience and the national and international profile it brings. Against current economic, political and social backdrops, arts and culture are vital to our communities, growth and unity. It is this profundity that sets the agenda and focus for cultural investment in Liverpool.

By investing in the city’s cultural organisations, we seek to support and be supported by an independent and distinct offer that provides real authenticity and showcases Liverpool’s strong sense of identity.

Included in this investment programme is Open Eye Gallery — an independent, not-for-profit photography gallery. As one of the UK’s leading photography spaces, Open Eye presents an international programme of contemporary photography exhibitions, as well as workshops, talks and events.

Get to know them a little more below.

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Photography is created by everyone, all over the world, every day. At Open Eye Gallery, we work with people to create, share and champion photography — as a useful tool for learning, as a way to collaborate and co-produce culture, and as a means to communicate globally. We’re one of the biggest public photography organisations in the country, and we’re growing fast.

We run a gallery space on Liverpool Waterfront, where we host four major exhibitions a year, plus many other smaller shows in-between. All our shows are free and open to everyone, always.

The work that we do goes a long way beyond our gallery space though — it stretches to other UK galleries, public spaces, international organisations and online. Working with all of our partners, we produce exhibitions, long-term social collaborative projects, publications, festivals, and university courses.

One big thing that we produce is LOOK Photo Biennial, a season of photography that runs once every two years. Each time, we work with a different exchange country, looking at how we can use photography as a kind of language to communicate our cultures to one another. This season takes place across Liverpool and the surrounding region, and also in venues in a partner country. The partner country changes each time — over the past four years we’ve carried out a lot of projects with China and Hong Kong.

Another focus is socially engaged photography — an area we are working to take a lead on, nationally. We produce long-term socially engaged photography projects with local residents, in which photographers and communities come together to co-produce visual representations of the world around us. We also co-deliver an MA in Socially Engaged Photography Practice with University of Salford. These projects are collaborative and full of different voices, and the process of working on them is just as important as the final product. Working together, various communities and photographers push for social change at a grassroots level.

Over the next few years, we’re planning on scaling up LOOK Photo Biennial, starting a new photography hub in North Liverpool, growing our university course, looking at ways to showcase work digitally, and, of course, continuing to produce excellent photography exhibitions that are free and open to all.

Telling stories. Delivering events. Championing creativity. Inspiring audiences. Thinking forward. — Culture: the rocket fuel for regeneration.

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