The Toronto Photographers Workshop was founded in 1977 when a group of fifty artists came together to address the lack of support for photography as an art form in Canada. The group established a vision for an artist-run centre, offering a comprehensive range of programs supporting and promoting exhibitions of photographic art, and functioning as a dynamic catalyst within the art community. This vision continues to guide the growth and development of the organization.
TPW began its program of continuous exhibitions in 1980 when it opened the Photography Gallery at Harbourfront. By negotiating a rent-free agreement, TPW not only created a unique public venue with an extremely large audience -- it also enabled payment of artist fees in accordance with the CARFAC fee schedule beginning with the very first exhibition. The catalogue PublIc Exposures: One Decade of Canadian Photography (1990) celebrates and documents the ten-year history of exhibitions programmed in the TPW venue that continues to this day to be a forum for contemporary photography.
In 1986, Gallery TPW was opened at 80 Spadina Avenue, the first building in Toronto to bring numerous galleries together within one renovated warehouse. At this location, the gallery has established a high profile within the art community and is a suitable environment in which to address the broadening definition of photography. The gallery presents approximately seven exhibitions yearly and commissions writers to produce essays for each, which are published in catalogue form or on the Web. Many of TPW's catalogues stand as significant published works on artists such as Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge,Vid Ingelevics, Nina Levitt, Ho Tam, Sue Lloyd and Kelly McCray. In addition, TPW has published major books, including Suggestive Poses: Artists ond Critics Respond to Censorship (1997).
Gallery TPW regularly collaborates with other artist-run centres, as well as public galleries and educational institutions, to produce major projects that create new opportunities and develop new audiences for Canadian artists. TPW has a history of initiating and participating in national and international exchanges, and has produced numerous national touring exhibitions: Fabrications (1995); Camera Obscured (1999); and in 2001,Visibility and Invisibility in the Nuclear Era; Ho Tam: Lessons; and breath taking: Sue Lloyd and Kelly McCray.
Gallery TPW is respected for its professional presentations of innovative and challenging exhibitions. The exhibitions are the foundation from which all other programming emanates. Publications, touring exhibitions, special events, promotional activities and TPW's Web site all enhance and support the exhibitions through documentation and dissemination.
TPW's current mission statement summarizes and guides our programming vision and goals, which includes the following: promoting photography-based artists' work in a diversity of forms, which foster a critical dialogue concerning the use and function of phototography; exploring the varied social, historical and cultural contexts that affect the production and reception of photography; and supporting the principles guiding the operation of Canadian artist- run centres.
Gallery TPW strives to present a balance between established and emerging artists, group and solo exhibitions, as well as presenting artists from different regions in order to reflect local, national and international perspectives. Gallery TPW has established the following programming goals: to encourage curatorial practices that illuminate the work of photo-based artists; to generate new exhibitions in response to current issues within the artistic community; to support artists exploring the relationship between photography and other technology-based media; and to support artists in the realization of innovative installations.
Exhibitions are selected by a committee consisting of the Board of Directors and full-time staff. The Board members are engaged in both the rigorous review of artists' submissions and the development of original programming in response to issues that emerge from Ithe process, and many of them have taken an active role in curating exhibitions.