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By Phil Oates on

An internationally significant contemporary photography archive is added to our collection

An new archive, including work by Martin Parr, Julian Germain and Anna Fox, has joined our collection.

We know it’s a bit naughty, but we’ve unwrapped one birthday present a little early. We are acquiring another amazing photography collection—an internationally significant selection of contemporary photography from the Impressions Gallery archive here in Bradford.

Poster of the first exhibition at Impressions Gallery by Martin Parr and Daniel Meadows, Photographs of Butlin's Filey 1972
Poster of the first exhibition at Impressions Gallery by Martin Parr and Daniel Meadows, Photographs of Butlin’s Filey 1972

The archive has been accumulated by Impressions Gallery over the past 40 years. It will soon be sitting alongside the millions of objects that make up the photography collection we care for.

Poster of the exhibition Home Sweet Home by Martin Parr, 1974
Poster of the exhibition Home Sweet Home by Martin Parr, 1974

So just for today we are looking to the future rather than our past, as we are set to bring the archive to the museum in about 12 months’ time.

Impressions Gallery, which sits just across the road from us in Bradford (I can wave to it from my window), is one of Europe’s top venues for contemporary photography.

Inside of Impressions Gallery newsletter featuring the exhibition Photo-Video, 1992
Inside page of Impressions Gallery newsletter featuring the exhibition Photo-Video, 1992

Their archive features work from some of the most important photographers practising over the past four decades—often as they were just embarking on their careers. Names you might recognise include Martin Parr, whose first show, in partnership with Daniel Meadows, was staged at Impressions Gallery in 1972; Julian Germain and Anna Fox.

It is also believed to be the first time a publicly funded photography gallery will have its archive cared for and made accessible by a national institution, and this is just what we intend to do: make this rich period of British photographic exhibiting history available to curators, scholars, photographers, and you.

Cover of Impressions Gallery newsletter featuring the exhibition Drum, 1988.
Cover of Impressions Gallery newsletter featuring the exhibition Drum, 1988.

We have of course worked with Impressions Gallery before, organising the Ways of Looking photography festival together in 2011, and this relationship will help make Bradford Britain’s cultural destination and national hub for photography. What a birthday present that will be!

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