Photography: Emli Bendixen

Fashion brand Burberry is taking over London’s Old Sessions House for a new exhibition celebrating British portrait photography on 18 September.

Titled, Here We are, the temporary show is being curated by Burberry’s chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, photographer Alasdair McLellan and Lucy Kumara Moore, founder of bookshop Claire de Rouen. It will fill three floors of the grade II*-listed former courthouse on Clerkenwell Green, ahead of its transformation into a private members club by Sätila Studios.

‘When we started thinking about curating Here We Are, I knew I wanted it to celebrate a certain strand of British photography that I have always loved – one which documents the many and varied tribes and clans and classes that make up this island of ours,’ said Bailey. ‘They provide a portrait of British life, in all its nuances, both exceptional and mundane, beautiful and harsh.’

The exhibition picks up on social (and fashion) trends throughout the 20th century, and includes previously unseen shots by director Ken Russell. Added Bailey: ‘It’s the spirit of those photographs – sometimes ironic, sometimes tender, always truthful – that has guided our September collection.’

In your Dreams, January 1955. Courtesy of Ken Russell/Burberry
Ken Russell, In Your Dreams, January 1955. Courtesy of TopFoto / Ken Russell

Originally known as the Middlesex Sessions House, the building was once the biggest and busiest courthouse in England. Built in 1779 by architect Thomas Rogers, it was later used for manufacturing scales, and as a Masonic lodge before Sätila Studios founders Oliver and Ted Grebelius bought it in 2014.

Dafydd Jones, Magdalen Commemoration Ball, Oxford, 1988. Courtesy of Dafydd Jones/Burberry

Here We Are runs from 18 September to 1 October and will give visitors a rare glimpse inside the building, which is earmarked for conversion into a 1,000 person private members club venue with bars and restaurants. There’ll also be a bookshop and pop-up cafe on site too.

Read next: Burberry abandons plans to revive Yorkshire’s Temple Works



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