Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s – 1990s

15 January – 31 July 2015 (extended)

Staying Power is an important exhibition featuring photographs, drawn from the V&A’s collection, which begin to document the experiences of Black people in Britain in the latter half of the 20th century.

Inspired by Peter Fyrer’s seminal text Staying Power, The History of Black People in Britain, this exhibition focuses on a period of time when photography served as an archival tool to capture historical moments. From documentary to portraiture to staged allegorical photographs, Staying Power documents experiences from post-World War II through to the 1990s, covering topics from mass migration to hip hop fashions of south London.

We invite you to contemplate the narratives behind the iconic work of Dennis Morris, Charlie Philips’ visual record of city life and local heroes, and Neil Kenlock’s photographic journalism. Discover the work of acclaimed photographer James Barnor who captured many greats during the ‘swinging sixties’, self-taught Colin Jones and his infamous images of youth alienation, the powerful images of uprisings and protest captured by Pogus Caesar, and allegorical portraits by Ingrid Pollard. Through the lens of the photographers celebrate the moment of The Specials Fans by Syd Shelton and Gavin Watson’s insight into the ska youth sub-culture. Explore representations of beauty and aesthetics through the work of Armet Francis, Jennie Baptiste, Al Vandenberg and Raphael Albert.

This exhibition asks questions about this rapidly changing cultural landscape, where identity and representation collides with music, politics, and fashion. The selected photographs are complimented by previously unheard oral history testimonies from the photographers and contributors.

Free admission

Share your thoughts @bcaheritage #inspiringpower

Read recent articles

Washington Post, The ‘staying power’ of black British life from 1950s – 1990s

Okay Africa, Photographing the Black British Experience

BBC Arts, Staying Power interview with photographer Neil Kenlock

The Observer, The black experience: portraits of a community

Robert Elms, BBC London talks to Staying Power curator Dr. Kimberly F. Keith 

Time Out, 19 pictures of West Londoners by Charlie Philips

London Live on Staying Power exhibition

Black Ballad Interview: This Woman’s Work Dr Kim Keith

Afridiziak News on Staying Power exhibition

The Staying Power project

This new exhibition is the culmination of a seven-year collaborative project Staying Power between Black Cultural Archives and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The Staying Power project aimed to increase the number of Black British photographers and images of Black people in Britain in the V&A’s National Collection on the Art of Photography. It aims to raise awareness of the contribution of Black people to British culture and society, as well as the art of photography.

Read more about the Staying Power project.

A concurrent Staying Power display will be on show at the V&A, from 16 February – 24 May 2015.
Find out more about the V&A’s Staying Power display.

 

 

Image photograph by Scarlett Crawford and Jemella Binns. Photograph detail included by: James Barnor, ‘Mike Eghan, Piccadilly Circus’, 1967. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Neil Kenlock, ‘Untitled [Young lady points to ‘Keep Britain White’ graffiti at the International Personnel training centre in Balham]’, 1974. © Neil Kenlock/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Normski, ‘Cynthia M Prescod (Mum) at Home in Primrose Hill, London, 1986’. © Normski/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Charlie Phillips, ‘Vin in Chair’, 2002. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. All photographs are supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.