New Funding Allows Open Eye Gallery to Launch New Programmes of Co-Authored Culture

New funding for Open Eye Gallery is allowing them to significantly scale up their work in socially engaged photography over the next three years. Working with new resources from  Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Access and Participation Fund, the organisation is introducing new projects across the region that seek to explore how culture can be co-authored with people. These projects will include a new community photography hub, a programme working with prisoners, and a new set of artist residencies with public health organisations.

This support comes at a pivotal time for Open Eye Gallery, as it moves towards embracing a model of co-authorship across all of its activity. In this way of working, the organisation brings various photographers, groups and organisations together to co-produce collaborative projects about social, political, economic or environmental issues that reflect the voices of everyone involved: making culture with people, rather than just for people.

Throughout this period, the gallery will periodically showcase work produced from all of its co-authored projects in its gallery space, on its digital window gallery, online, and in publications. Two new roles have already been created to lead this activity: Liz Wewiora, Head of Engagement and Andy Yates, Young People’s Creative Producer. Amongst the projects planned is a new initiative with NOVUS educational organisation, who with funding support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation will develop a two year prison programme supporting those within the criminal justice system and their families to use photography as a form of learning and expression.

A new collaboration with local residents from Clubmoor will seek to establish a self sustaining photography hub in North Liverpool, operated with participants of community organisation My Clubmoor. In the run up to this, Open Eye Gallery will establish a programme working with people over 60 in the area, as part of their Young at Art initiative with FACT and National Museums Liverpool, leading to an intergenerational photography hub.

New artist residencies with healthcare organisations NHS Merseycare Foundation Trust and Community Integrated Care will also shortly be announced, in which photographers will work with people to explore how photography can be instrumental in managing mental health.

Other major projects from Open Eye Gallery this year include LOOK Photo Biennial 2019, the culmination of a two-year period of international exchange with China. Open Eye Gallery is based at 19 Mann Island, Liverpool, but also programmes extensively in other  venues: last year, it staged 22 exhibitions locally and internationally. It is the only dedicated photography gallery in the North West, and one of the only galleries dedicated to exploring how we use photography today.

Jemma O’Brien, part of Kirkby Futures, 2019