40 Years of Open Eye Gallery: 1977-2017

Open Eye Gallery Opening


Join us for an exciting year ahead as we launch our 40th birthday celebrations. Over this period, Open Eye Gallery has exhibited some of the worlds most inspiring and insightful photographers. We have championed the agency of photography as art, as social and historical document, and as integral to cultural impact of music, fashion, architecture and many other disciplines.

In 2017, Open Eye Gallery will be celebrating our deep connection to place. Working in partnership, we explore the visual identity of the North, the City as a site for global exchange, the history and future of counter culture and the people & communities of our City Region.


We believe photography is for everyone and can be meaningful, informing our present and inspiring positive futures. Open Eye Gallery works with people to explore photography’s unique ability to connect, to tell stories, to inquire, to reflect on humanity’s past and present, and to celebrate its diversity and creativity.

Founded in 1977 Open Eye Gallery is an independent not-for-profit photography gallery based in Liverpool. One of the UK’s leading photography spaces, Open Eye Gallery is the only gallery dedicated to photography and related media in the North West of England. Open Eye Gallery has consistently championed photography as an art form that is relevant to everyone. It promotes the practice, enjoyment and understanding of photography by creating challenging and entertaining opportunities to experience and appreciate distinctive, innovative photographs.


In November 2011 Open Eye Gallery re-launched in a brand new purpose-built home in one of the city’s most prestigious and prominent new developments on the Liverpool Waterfront. The gallery’s position at the heart of the regenerated Waterfront – next to the Museum of Liverpool and a stone’s throw from Tate Liverpool and Albert Dock – cements its commitment to the city and its vibrant cultural life.

As well as presenting a programme of international, high-quality exhibitions Open Eye Gallery houses a permanent Archive containing photographs dating from the 1930s to the present day. The gallery also commissions Wall Works – large-scale graphic art installations for the external facade of the gallery.

Colin Wilkinson, Founder of Open Eye Gallery “Open Eye Galler y, where I… was dynamic. We were doing an exhibition a month. It wasn’t madness – it was exciting. Opportunities came up and we took them.” – 1978

Mandy, Visitor “Open Eye Gallery, where I… protested against an exhibition. Myself and other feminists spray ed shaving foam on some quite graphic images of women.” – 1980

Martin Parr, Photographer “Open Eye Gallery, where I… exhibited The Last Resort with Tom Wood. The Gallery was a nice place to go. It was what you might call shabby chic, but it worked and functioned well and the show got a good response.” – 1986

Simon Norfolk, Photographer “Open Eye Gallery, where I… discovered photography was what I’d do for the rest of my life. Having a voice that people want to hear is a rare privilege.” – 1999

Debbie Chan, Previous member of staff “Open Eye Gallery, where I… got my first full – time job as trainee programme assistant. A significant occasion, because my Chinese parents always supported my madness for the arts, but never knew how.” – 2000

Tim Riley, Architect (Mann Island gallery) “Open Eye Gallery, where I… felt immense pride to be told that the design had captured the spirit of the Gallery and continued to provoke and engage the people of the city.” – 2011

Phoebe Kiely, Photographer “Open Eye Gallery, where I… was given my first exhibition. I was given a voice throughout. I grew more as an artist during that exhibition than I ever had before.” – 2016