Sydney's once vibrant Oxford Street is set to face yet another loss: The Australian Centre for Photography, a cornerstone of Paddington's creative history for the past 40 years and one of the longest running contemporary art spaces in Australia, is selling up.
For ACP, the lack of accessibility along Oxford Street has been the major drawback. Director Suzanne Buljan sees the decision to move the home of Australia's photo-media community to a more central location as an opportunity to “adapt with our ever changing medium and produce innovative shows that overcome both building and transport barriers for audiences."
The proceeds from the auction of the Paddington property will go towards ACP's new space. "We have started looking … close to Central, either in the evolving arts district around Central Park or in lower Surry Hills," says Buljan. "Such locations provide accessibility to a greater audience and also attract a creative community that will enhance ACP’s profile."
It wasn't long ago that Paddington's main strip was a definitive hub for local creatives — a melting pot of independent galleries, eclectic boutiques and the big names in Australian fashion. The mass exodus, however, of retail and restaurants in recent years has left the area comparatively lifeless. Are the two Westfield centres bookending Oxford Street to blame? Is it the cost of parking? The high rent? This recent Sydney Morning Heraldinvestigation of the street's decline highlights just how complex the issue is.
The auction is scheduled for October 1, and ACP will move homes later in 2015. In the meantime, catch the spring season show at the Paddington location this month, an exhibition presented in association with the Reportage Festival of Photography and showcasing four award-winning photojournalists: Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong from the Netherlands, South Africa's Jodi Bieber and our own Ashley Gilbertson.
Find the ACP Gallery at 257 Oxford Street, Paddington. It's open Tuesday - Saturday from 10am - 5pm and Sunday from noon - 5pm (closed public holidays and Mondays). Admission is free.