Autograph was founded in 1988 in London to support black photographic practices.

From a small office in the Bon Marché Building in Brixton, Autograph- the Association of Black Photographers launched an ambitious programme of exhibitions, publications and events. Between 1988 and 2007 Autograph worked as an agency to initiate projects in gallery spaces, museums, at festivals or in public sites.

By this means it developed expertise in influencing policy and practice and was able to demonstrate alternative models of making and sharing creative work produced by artists from the UK and abroad. During this period, Autograph built an extensive repertoire of projects and project partners, delivering commissions, developing its permanent photographic

collection, publishing monographs, newspapers and essay collections. Autograph carried out strategic research and curatorial activity with large and small institutions, nationally and internationally, locating and distributing the results around the world.

In 2007 Autograph applied for charitable status and in the same year moved to a purpose-built permanent home: Rivington Place in Shoreditch. It houses Autograph’s activities and staff team, provides an important London showcase for our annual programmes of public exhibitions and events, storage for our photographic archive, a dedicated learning studio and a place to welcome and facilitate the many institutions, informal groups and individuals with whom we make and share cultural projects.


Rivington Place is a five storey building located in Hackney, east London commissioned by and originally housing two independently constituted arts charities: Iniva (Institute of International Visual Art) and Autograph The Association of Black Photographers. Both organisations are dedicated to the development and public presentation of culturally diverse visual arts at a national and international level with a strong focus on sharing work made by Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) artists with the public.

Designed by award-winning architect Sir David Adjaye, Rivington Place opened to critical acclaim in October 2007. The formal opening was held on 3 October 2007, attended by many of the funders, ambassadors, artists, partners, and supporters of Iniva and Autograph ABP over the previous 20 years of their respective existence. Two days later saw the opening of the inaugural exhibition London is the Place for Me, curated by both organisations.

For the following eight years, Rivington Place was jointly managed by Autograph and Iniva. It provided office spaces for both charities and housed two exhibition spaces, Iniva’s education studio and it’s Stuart Hall Library. Additional office spaces in the building are let to independent companies and the rent received supports the operational costs of delivering charitable activity. Iniva’s library collection is named after Professor Stuart Hall, the eminent academic, political commentator and broadcaster (1932 -2014) who acted as Chair for both charities and was the project champion for Rivington Place.

Following a decision by Arts Council England to change the amounts of funding it offered to each organisation in 2014, Autograph was charged by Arts Council England with independently managing the cultural offer at Rivington Place and taking sole responsibility for its operation and maintenance from April 2015. Iniva reviewed its future mission and operating model and decided to relocate it library and operational base to Chelsea School of Arts. This move was completed in 2018.

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The Development of Rivington Place
In 1998, the directors of Autograph ABP and Iniva forged an alliance to address the need for a permanent base for the two agencies and their constituencies. They set up a new company, Sense of Place (SOP) to take responsibility for identifying and securing the site upon which Rivington Place was built, raising funds and overseeing the capital project. The company was chaired by Ken Dytor; he liased closely with the Project Champion, Professor Stuart Hall. When it opened in 2007 Rivington Place was the first newly built public art gallery to open in London for 40 years. More significantly, it was the first time in the UK that a purpose built public space had been commissioned to house the development and presentation of culturally diverse arts. In 2007 the completed building provided:

Independent Offices for each charity: Occupied by Iniva and Autograph ABP
Two gallery spaces: capable of housing exhibitions, film screenings and talks: Shared Usage
Stuart Hall Library: Iniva Sole Usage
Education Studio: Iniva Sole usage
Meeting Room: Shared Usage
Café: Independently Tenanted
Workspace: Independently Tenanted

In 2016 with assistance from Arts Council England Small Scale Capital Lottery Fund, Autograph ABP carried out some minor capital refurbishment work at Rivington Place. The programme was designed to improve energy efficiency in the building and remove the café, to create a new accessible education studio on the ground floor which was designed to respond to the needs of its most emotionally and socially excluded beneficiaries.
For a fuller account of the first phase development of Rivington Place published by Arts Council England, as one among a number of case studies charting the completion of capital infrastructure achieved with funding from the National Lottery, please follow this link: Rivington Place, Capital Case Study

Rivington Place Vital Statistics
Initial project planning began in 2002
Work started on site in February 2006 was completed in June 2007
Project costs totalled just under £8 million, of which the construction costs accounted for £4.4 million and site acquisition costs totalled £1.3 million.
The Gross floor area yielded is 1,445m

Main Sources of Funding
Arts Council England £5.97 million
Barclays £1.1 million
European Regional Development Fund £172,702
London Borough of Hackney £100,000
London Development Agency £91,000
City Fringe Partnership £231,000

Design and Project Management Team: Key Contractors

Architect: Adjaye Associates

Business and Financial Services: DTZ

Project Manager: Bucknall Austin (John Clerke)

Service engineer: Michael Popper Associates

Structural engineer: Techniker

Main contractor: Blenheim House Construction

PR and marketing: Kalloway

Delivery Team Key Personnel

Chair, Autograph ABP and Iniva – Project Champion: Professor Stuart Hall

Directors: Iniva
Gilane Tawadros (Iniva Founding Director until 2004)
2006 Gus Casley-Hayford
2007 Sebastian Lopez

Director, Autograph ABP: Mark Sealy

Deputy Director Autograph ABP: Tom O Mara

Project manager (coordination): Paul Brookes

Project manager (construction): Peter Clack

Autograph ABP Designated Board members:
Ron Henocq
Rosemary Miles

Iniva Designated Board members :
Paula Kahn
Daljit Singh

Independent Chair, Sense of Place: Ken Dytor