Photoworks was set up in 1995. You can browse many of our past projects here.
A History of Photoworks
1987 to 1995 – Cross Channel Photographic Mission
The Cross-Channel Photographic Mission (CCPM) was established in 1987 by Kent County Council and South East Arts, following the closure of Morris Newcombe's photographic gallery in St Leonards On Sea.
In the early years, under the direction of Leo Stable, the focus was on the coastal region and the building of the Channel Tunnel, often working in partnership with its French counterpart, La Mission Photographique Transmanche. The publication, Soundings, was produced in 1994 to coincide with the opening of the tunnel and documented the work of the organisation.
1995 – 1997 – Photoworks
Once the Channel Tunnel was opened this geographical and philosophical rationale was reviewed. In July 1996 the organisation was re-named Photoworks and became a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, under the artistic direction of Ann McNeill, supported by Liz Kent as Projects Manager.
A Board of Trustees was set up under the chairmanship of John Gill. The organisation's new mission was to 'commission new photographic work by regional, national and international artists, which embraces the diversity of current photographic practice through exhibitions, publications, research and education'.
1997 – 2003
In 1997, Anne left to direct Photo '98 in Yorkshire and is now Director of Impressions Gallery, York. David Chandler was appointed Director of Photoworks in April 1997. The same year, the office moved to free accommodation at the Kent Institute of Art and Design, Maidstone.
Photoworks was awarded its first major lottery grant in 1998 for two In-Site residencies at Petworth House with Garry Fabian Miller and the Design Council Archive held by the University of Brighton, with Marysia Lewandowska and Neil Cummings.
The grant enabled the organisation to significantly expand. The post of Development Director was offered to Rebecca Drew in 2000 and Laura Thomas was appointed as Information Manager. In 2002 the new post of Projects Manager for Education and Audience Development was offered to Helen James. Gordon MacDonald, who had worked on a freelance basis, was appointed as Project Manager.
A feasibility study undertaken in 2002 concluded that Photoworks would benefit greatly from a move of location to Brighton. Increased funding from the restructured Arts Council England made this possible, with the move to Brighton taking place in June 2003. The move reflected an increasing ambition to become an organisation with a national presence and enabled Photoworks to significantly expand its remit.
2003 – 2010
Since moving to Brighton the organisation has continued to rapidly expand. Photoworks was a key founding partner of the Brighton Photo Biennial, along with the University of Brighton and South East Arts, and has continued to support its development. The festival generates significant national and international interest, drawing large crowds to the city and confirming Brighton as one of the UK’s leading centres for photography.
2003 also saw the launch of the redesigned magazine, Photoworks, as a unique forum for British and international photography and visual culture. Published bi-annually and edited by Gordon MacDonald, the magazine has continued to grow, both in terms of distribution and content, and has gained a reputation as one of the leading international photographic journals.
The first two titles in the Photoworks Monograph series were launched in 2004, marking the beginning of a fruitful co-publishing relationship with the German publishers Steidl, significantly increasing Photoworks’s international profile.
In 2005, Benedict Burbridge was appointed as full time Projects Assistant and Polly Carter as Education Co-ordinator, following Helen James’s move to the National Portrait Gallery. In the same year Helen Wade was appointed as Sales and Marketing Manager to oversee the marketing, distribution and advertising sales of Photoworks. An internship scheme was set up with the University of Brighton, with up to five interns assisting the organisation at any one time.
A significant grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation in 2006 enabled Photoworks to deliver three major commissions . In 2009, Photoworks restructured and appointed Celia Davies as Head of Projects and Gordon MacDonald as Head of Publications. David Chandler left in 2010 to become a Professor of Photography at Plymouth University.
Emma Morris was appointed Director, having been Deputy Director of the De La Warr Pavilion and The Photographers’ Gallery. Photoworks plans to merge with the Brighton Photo Biennial if its bid for regular funding from the Arts Council is successful. A new organisation will be formed that will celebrate photography in the 21st century.