Four photographers win Birmingham’s big commission

Brian Griffin, Michael Collins, Andrew Lacon and Stuart Whipps have all won a place in Reference Works, the largest photography commission ever undertaken in Birmingham. 

The four have been commissioned by Birmingham Library and Archive Services’ Photography Department to photograph the existing Central Library and document its transition and relocation into the newly-built Library of Birmingham next year. Collins, Lacon and Whipps have been asked to focus on the architecture of the old and new buildings, while Griffin will concentrate on photographing the people involved with the project. The images will go on show in the new gallery, along with photographs from the Library’s archive charting the history of Birmingham, and will also be published in a commemorative book.

“We’re thrilled to be able to launch this commission which will record a great moment in Birmingham’s history, celebrating the new library building and the people who make it happen,” said Brian Gambles, assistant director of culture at Birmingham Library and Archive Services. 

“We’re really excited about Reference Works,” added Pete James, head of photographs at Birmingham Library and Archive Services. “The differing approaches employed by the four commissioned photographers will give a richness and diversity to the project, enabling current and future generations to explore this historical moment from a variety of creative perspectives.

“The new works by Michael Collins, Brian Griffin, Andrew Lacon and Stuart Whipps will be tremendous additions to our collection. We are confident that the work will be significant not only to us, but to other photography institutions and collections at home and abroad, and that touring the show will help cement Birmingham’s place as an international centre for photography.”

Reference Works has been established by Birmingham City Council and made possible with the help of a £62,000 grant from Arts Council of England and partnership support from Birmingham City University. Further sponsorship for the project has come from Capita Symonds, Carillion, Mecanoo and The Flash Centre, Birmingham. The Library of Birmingham will showcase the institution’s archives, rare books and photographs and will include a gallery space and a BFI Mediatheque, providing free access to the National Film Archive. The Library has been designed by Francine Houben.

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