Following the success of The Photographers’ Gallery’s 50th anniversary programme in 2021 and the launch of Soho Photography Quarter - the Gallery’s ambitious new free, permanent outdoor exhibition space, which opened last month, Rogers’ planned departure marks the end of an extraordinary period of growth and creative evolution for the internationally acclaimed Gallery - founded in 1971 as the UK’s first public gallery dedicated to photography.
From 2006 - 2022, Rogers’ expansive vision and influential leadership at The Photographers’ Gallery has led to a range of momentous cultural presentations and institutional developments, both in London and abroad, taking place through a period of huge social, technological, and artistic transition for the photographic medium. Brett plans to maintain a connection with the photography world in a reduced capacity following her departure.
Brett Rogers’ key achievements have included, but are not limited to:
• The re-location of The Photographers’ Gallery in 2012, taking the Gallery from its first home in Great Newport Street to its current, purpose-built 5-floor space, with a dedicated floor for learning, designed by award winning Irish Architects O’Donnell + Tuomey. It is housed in a former textiles warehouse on Ramillies Street, in the heart of London’s vibrant West End.
• The launch of Soho Photography Quarter, a free and accessible public realm space in the streets surrounding the Gallery. Following 5 years of planning, the new space and bi-yearly programme of large-scale, public realm artworks and activities, including large-scale art friezes, cross-street banners and moving image projections, provides a unique opportunity for the Gallery to extend its programme outside, enabling wider audiences to experience some of the most innovative and dynamic artists working today.
- Staging critically and publicly acclaimed exhibitionssuch as solo presentations of Saul Leiter, Helen Levitt and Sunil Gupta, to thematic explorations including Made you Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity, Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography, The Feminist Avant Garde of the 1970s and Easter Rising 1916.
• Securing the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize as one of the most prestigious and long-standing prizes in the world of photography. Each year it highlights significant trends within contemporary photography and showcases the works of artists shaping today's international photography scene, having first launched in 1996. Recent winners include Deana Lawson (2022), Cao Fei (2021), Mohamed Bourouissa (2020), Susan Meiselas (2019) and Luke Willis Thompson (2018).
• Championing female photographers like Sally Mann, Taryn Simon, Noemi Goudal, Shirley Baker, Helen Levitt, Alex Prager, Helen Cammock, Rinko Kawauchi, Katy Grannan and Zineb Sedira, in a well-documented role supporting women and families in the photography industry, both through the women featured in TPG’s acclaimed exhibitions programme and as evidenced through her nurturing and supportive organisational environment.
• Appointing the Gallery’s first digital curator, to explore the effects of the digital realm on photography and visual culture, within the context of technological developments. Most recently, the current three-floor exhibition, How to Win at Photography, examines the relationship between photography and gaming culture.
• Establishing a dynamic, multi-form artistic programme, which has harnessed the different Gallery spaces to present diverse viewpoints, approaches and chronologies. Supporting both established and emergent talent - from Edward Burtynsky, Wim Wenders and Evgenia Arbugaeva, to Gregory Crewdson, Vivianne Sassen and Lorenzo Vitturi - Rogers' programme has given a platform to everything from vernacular photography to large scale studio production.
• Examining the local and global nature of photography and its presentation, bringing exhibitions as various as The World in London, a major public art project initiated by Rogers to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; to curating a major British survey exhibition of work by 37 photographers - Work Rest and Play: British Photography Since the 1960s - to four Chinese cities in 2015-6; to focussing on the unique communities of the Gallery’s home in Soho, including 2020’s Shot in Soho featuring William Klein, Anders Petersen and Corinne Day.
• Placing education at the heart of the organisation, with a dedicated learning and events space and ensuring platforms and support for young people’s ideas and talent, including the free and low-cost Develop creative careers programme, public tours led by 14-19 year olds (Teen Tours), a new Extended Project Qualification in Photography for A-Level pupils and appointing the Gallery’s first under-25 Trustee in 2018; championing visual literacy through photography, including the ten-year Touchstone single photo display, ‘slow looking’ events and dedicated programmes related to visual literacy; and encouraging discussion and debate on photography’s role in society, through the Gallery’s programme of hundreds of talks, workshops and courses during her tenure.
• Setting up initiatives to identify, support and champion new photography talent, including Fresh Faced & Wild Eyed and more recently, the annual TPG New Talent award, exhibition, and mentoring programme, as well as supporting emerging photographers with first publications, ongoing, free networking events and portfolio review sessions.
• Foregrounding TPG's Print Sales Gallery - a dedicated ‘discovery’ space and the Gallery’s commercial representation arm, which with its own exhibitions, is a leading international barometer for the buying and collecting of photography, the proceeds for which are reinvested into the Gallery’s public programme.
A specially formed committee of trustees, led by TPG Chair of Trustees Matthew Stephenson and senior staff, has begun the considered process of looking for and appointing a new Director, with the aim of having Rogers’ successor in place by December 2022. With a particular responsibility to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, The Photographers’ Gallery has appointed global executive and board recruitment company, Saxton Bampfylde - experts in finding exceptional, diverse leaders for major organisations - to support the recruitment process, which will officially commence on 18 July.