Open Doors Gallery nurtures new photographic talent. We speak to founder Tom Page about his passion for working with emerging artists.
3rd September 2021
by Sheena Campbell
Open Doors came about ‘organically’ from Page’s own desire to be a photographic artist.
“Back then it wasn’t just photography, it was very broad,” he says.
“We put on shows wherever we could – in flats, in pubs in all sorts of places to get the work of local artists out there.
“Slowly but surely I realised I wasn’t very good at photography and I preferred the other stuff – putting on shows, working with artists.”
Initially, Open Doors ran as a side project while Page worked full time in venues like the Photographer’s Gallery.
The project mainly ran on Instagram in its early days.
However, about four years ago people began to take it ‘more seriously.
Now, Open Doors attends artists fairs, hosts online exhibitions and designs books.
It represent around 20 artists from all over the world.
This September Open Doors is attending Photo London for the first time.
It will be showing work from four of its artists – Maria Lax, Kensuke Koike, Denisse Ariana Pérez and Shae Detar.
Some Kind of Heavenly Fire by Lax is an investigation and artistic depiction of stories discovered in her grandfather’s book.
As a journalist he investigated claims of strange and unexplained sightings in the forests around where she grew up in a remote region of Northern Finland.
Lax’s cinematic approach to storytelling creates a compelling and enigmatic world filled with mystery.
Koike creates unique artwork by manipulating found photographic material.
Their approach to the medium revolves around the idea of using the assets found within an image.
The process often starts as a puzzle begging to be solved with each image setting its own unique challenges.
Pérez is a Caribbean-born, Barcelona-based copywriter and photographer.
Her work focuses on people, nature, gender, culture, and words and how they all interact with one another.
Detar creates otherworldly photographic mixed media images, using a unique hand-painting process in which she paints on top of her photographs.
Her surrealistic images merge photography and painting by exaggerating the colours of both the landscapes and her subjects.
She takes them out of reality and places them into another world.
Find out more about Open Doors’ Photo London exhibition here.
Open Doors is currently hosting an online exhibition – Shapeshifters: The Image in Flux.
The online exhibition, which celebrates art caught in transition, came together in just three weeks.
“Shapeshifters came together very, very quickly,” says Page.
“It came about simply because we got a submission we really loved. We built an exhibition around that subject which I think is quite rare.”
The exhibition marks a growing curiosity into the multitude of forms emerging within contemporary photography.
In the first instance, the concept of the photograph shapeshifting is seemingly alien and irregular.
Tradition dictates we must believe it to be a didactic and solitary medium, one with a singular optical view and representation.
But photography today is in constant flux and searches to occupy new worlds and dimensions.
Find out more about the exhibition here.
Bi-Monthly with Setanta Books
Away from exhibitions, Open Door also has an ongoing series of publications with Setanta Books.
Together they release a new paperback publication every two months.
The series specifically supports emerging and unpublished photographic artists.
Each book has a limited run to introduce them to the industry.
View the Bi-Monthly archive here.
The latest publication is Where the Rain Clouds Gather by Kit Young.
Just 50 copies of the 400-edition run are still available. Click here for more information.
OD Photo Prize 2021
Open Doors has recently launched its own photographic prize.
The OD Photo Prize is an open call for emerging artists working within the first ten years of their practice.
Nominated artists will appear in a limited-edition news sheet and group exhibition in London.
Prizes are also on offer from supporters of the prize.
The winner will receive ongoing mentorship and support.
“Really it is extending our whole ethos of nurturing new talent,” says Page.
“It has been a challenging time for everyone but particularly for the arts which for some reason aren’t seen as a priority.
“It is a good time to make sure that we don’t lose incredible talent and story tellers.”
Click here for more information on the prize.
Open Doors Gallery
Open Doors Gallery is a global platform for emerging contemporary photographic artists.
It represents and develops the careers of several award-winning artists, each with their own unique approach to the medium.
Find out more at opendoors.gallery.