Giant outdoor Photography Quarter opens in London with free exhibits

Soho Photography Quarter featuring the exhibition 'Christian Thompson: Being Human Human Being’
(Image credit: © Luke Hayes, Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London)

A new permanent open-air cultural exhibition space has been launched in London by The Photographers’ Gallery and officially opens today. The space will be presenting the very best in world-class and contemporary photography, all for free! 

Situated only seconds from Oxford Street, the Soho Photography Quarter will present a rotating program of outdoor interactive artworks and exhibitions, changing twice a year. The first opening presentation at SPQ showcases Being Human, Human Being by artist Christian Thompson. 

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The launch of this new open-air exhibition and permanent creative space by The Photographers' Gallery follows the recent similar refurbishment of Ramillies Place, London, which was transformed from a previously overlooked alley into a beautifully designed, pedestrianized space that now offers an inspiring gateway to Soho. 

The opening Being Human Human Being installation by artist Christian Thompson is the first of what will be many presentations on display at the Soho Photography Quarter, also highlighting a cultural exchange – UK/Australia Season 2021-22 – that exists between the two nations and has been jointly presented by the Australian Government and the British Arts Council. 

Thompson’s artworks explore various notions of identity, with a focus on themes of sexuality, gender, cultural hybridity, memory, and history. Through creative performances and what the artist calls ‘anti-portraits’, he inhabits a range of personae by incorporating handcrafted costumes and backdrops, complimented by carefully constructed poses.

(Image credit: © Luke Hayes, Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London)

Alongside the proposed rotating artworks at SPQ, The Photographers' Gallery in addition intends to present a rich and engaging program of resources and activities that include live events, artist talks, short films and presentations, sound installations and specially commissioned AR projects.

This will in turn extend The Photographers’ Gallery beyond the walls of the building, and complete the development of the Soho site as a central photography and art hub.

The current open-air exhibition will remain until November and present selected works from Thompson's series King Billy (2010), Polari (2014), Equinox (2018) and Flower Walls (2018-present). These collections each reflect on indigenous and diverse representation, and Thompson fuses specific references with universal symbols to create a distinct, and often unconventional, form of visual language.

(Image credit: © Luke Hayes, Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London)

Thompson himself shares that, “I am delighted that my work will launch the Soho Photography Quarter. The first Indigenous Australian artist to be accepted into Oxford University in its 900-year history, I have lived and worked across Australia and London for over a decade. By inserting my own imagery and sound (singing in my traditional Bidjara language) into these spaces, I seek to highlight both the legacies of colonialism and the complexity of human identities, while simultaneously alluding to the multifaceted and layered histories of the precinct.”

(Image credit: © Luke Hayes, Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London)

In addition, a comment from Brett Rogers, Director at The Photographers’ Gallery, says: “Soho Photography Quarter represents the realization of a long-awaited vision to transform the public area outside The Photographers' Gallery into a welcoming, prominent cultural and social destination for people to encounter extraordinary images for free. Photography is one of our foremost and most accessible cultural forms, so being able to showcase the very best of what’s being created in this field for everyone to enjoy feels like a really valuable addition to the cultural offer in the West End."

Be sure to visit the Soho Photographer Quarter as well as The Photographer's Gallery next time you're in London. Located at 16-18 Ramillies St, W1F 7LW. 

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.