Engage with photography at the RPS’s new headquarters

17 May 2018

Society news

The RPS Headquarters, Bristol Back in January 2018 the RPS Journal published a three-page feature which described the Society’s new building. After that everything went quiet as last minute legal queries took longer to resolve than expected. The Society completed on its new building on 20 April with work on the detailed design and fit out starting immediately afterwards, as the trustees agreed the final layout.

The four-floor building is located in one of Bristol’s creative quarters, Paintworks, a 15-minute walk from Temple Meads station, on main bus and park and ride routes on the A4 between Bristol and Bath. It is located amongst other creative and media companies and it faces Martin Parr’s Foundation creating a destination for everyone interested in photography.

The interior space consists of:  

  • The RPS Headquarters, BristolGround floor:  a reception and circulation space with a video wall to show digital artwork. A 102-seater auditorium, with raked theatre-style seating, will be used for public lectures, film screenings and distinction assessments. It will be fitted with high quality projection and audio systems to ensure that still and moving images are shown properly.
  • The RPS Headquarters, BristolFirst floor: this is a dedicated, climate-controlled, exhibition space showing a variety of exhibitions, some popular, other less so, some contemporary and others historical, with a mix of paid for and free. All will show the best of photography across different genres, themes or type of photographer.  In all cases visitors should be interested, inspired or challenged to think about imagery, how it is used, the stories it tells and the messages it sends.
  • Second floor: this is the Society’s education centre with classroom and teaching spaces and a resource centre that will house books and digital resources available to anyone to consult. It will also be the home for a new collection of contemporary photography which will be used for teaching, exhibition and research.
  • Third floor, this is where the Society’s staff will manage the building and programmes within it, as well as supporting the Society’s membership.

The Society’s trustees and staff are excited about the opportunities that the building will open up. For the first time since the Octagon, the Society will have a very powerful public presence. More importantly, it will help the Society’s staff and volunteers deliver more fully its educational activities as defined in its Royal Charter. As I write those plans are being developed and refined: exhibitions of photography, new education programmes and training courses, public talks and lectures and a film festival...

The RPS Headquarters, Bristol / © Michael PritchardFor the public the building and what happens within it will add to the cultural life of Bristol and beyond, nationally. The building is something that everyone can be proud of and, I hope, many will take the opportunity to visit and experience some of what is happening within it. For those living further afield and abroad, the Society’s touring exhibitions will continue, alongside the activities of its Groups and Regions. In addition, we aim to ensure that many of the public events taking place within the building are filmed, streamed or made available online so that everyone can benefit, learn and, we hope, have some fun, too.

There’s much to do before the building opens in late 2018 or early 2019 but the trustees and staff are confident that the Society can deliver a physical space and content that will allow it to properly deliver on its charitable objectives. We are all enthusiastic about the opportunities it presents and are committed to make it a success. We hope you will share in our excitement.  And look out for future updates and pictures as work progresses 

Dr Michael Pritchard FRPS
Chief Executive
e: michael@rps.org