An eclectic collection of images of blacks from all walks of British life has been selected for an exhibit marking the significance of Black History Month in Britain in October.
The online show features 50 striking images on a wide range of themes with portraits, demonstrations, working women, carnival, musicians, dancers and more.
More than 100 images have been submitted to the organizers of the Alternative Arts exhibition, in collaboration with Tower Hamlets Council in East London, from established and emerging artists.
The final selection aims to comment on the lives of blacks past and present and the problems they face.
And while Black History Month has been a long-standing annual event, it has become even more relevant and important this year as the Black Lives Matter movement has been put back into the larger daily conversation after George’s death. Floyd in the United States.
Commenting on the importance of Black History Month 2020, Catherine Ross, editor-in-chief of the BHM website, said it was “the time to look ahead and celebrate the here and now – and future possibilities “.
“In past years, October has been the only time of the year when the UK talks about the achievements of blacks in Britain.
“Hopefully the events of 2020 will be a catalyst for black history to be shared much more widely – in museums, galleries, schools, universities, public spaces and communities.”
Here we have selected some of the photos from the exhibition.
Dina Asher-Smith by Frederic Aranda
Frédéric Aranda is a self-taught photographer specializing in portraiture. He has taken down a host of famous and influential people, including Margaret Thatcher, Prince Philip, Sir Ian McKellan, Rosamund Pike and Pharrell Williams.
His portrait, for which he also takes group shots, aims to communicate the humanity and strength of the subject, by expressing as much as possible a person in a single singular image. This has earned him a place as the Favorite Photographer for style magazines from top brands such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar.
This photo of British Olympic medalist sprinter Dina Asher-Smith sees her in a gorgeous Oscar de la Renta dress. It was one of many photos he took of the athlete for Harrods magazine, which called her a “hero of the 21st century.” The image is set up to show his physical capabilities and how his views are firmly set on his athletic goals.
Three sisters by Hussina Raja
Hussina Raja is a British Kashmiri artist, actress and director working in film, photography and performance.
His work explores the socio-political issues surrounding the notions of identity, heritage, belonging and culture. Her first short film Roots, about a young couple’s struggle for acceptance, premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019 and screened at the 66th Oberhausen International Short Film Festival.
In her photo Three Sisters, Raja portrays young emerging actresses Joyce Omotola, Akuc Bol and Bel Adawa as they were part of the cast of The Last King of Scotland at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield.
Raise Your Fist by Felix Schmilinsky
Felix Schmilinsky is a British German photographer and director of photography based in London. He shoots commercials and documentaries, including Chasing Perfect on the life of automotive designer Frank Stephenson, which was released on Netflix in 2019.
As a photographer, Schmilinsky specializes in impromptu images of everyday scenes, which although seemingly simple, draw the viewer and invite them to create their own narrative behind the image.
This powerful image was taken amid the Black Lives Matter protests in London earlier this year. Schmilinsky said simply: “A car stopped in the middle of the crowd gathered in front of the US Embassy. She got out, stood up and quietly raised her fist.”
Slave ship by Shaïny Vilo
Shaïny Vilo is a UK-based photographer, artist and musician. Of his most recent Afro + Punk project, Vilo says it is “an autobiographical project depicting a journey through the exploration of black identities in the alternative community and the struggles and complexities encountered in the middle.”
Slave Ship is one of the 17 images in the project. Vilo says he was inspired by the Basquiat painting of the same name, which focused on the slave trade route.
Rwanda Esther by Jenny Matthews
Jenny Matthews has spent over 30 years as a photographer, focusing in particular on portraying conflict and social issues for UK newspapers, magazines and development organizations.
Matthews has covered important historical events, including the guerrillas and independence in Eritrea, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the genocide in Rwanda. She has also produced award-winning books including Children Growing Up with War and Women and War.
Some of his photo projects involve making quilts with the images sewn into the fabric. This evocative photo is that of Esther, survivor of the Rwandan genocide, taken from one of these works.
Electrician Loretta Lietch by Sarah Ainslie
Photographer Sarah Ainslie’s work combines both personal projects and those commissioned by others. In particular, she has worked extensively with theater companies including RSC, Almeida and The Royal Court.
On a personal level, Ainslie is inspired by her homeland of London’s Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington neighborhoods and the lives of the people who live there. His work has represented football supporters from Arsenal, Smithfield Market, Spitalfields, Shoreditch at night and strip pubs in the East End.
This photo of Loretta Lietch, an electrician from east London, is from a series of black-and-white photos of Ainslie of local women at work, commissioned by the Hackney Museum.
Laurence by Ade “Àsìkò” Okelarin
Conceptual photographer and artist Ade “Àsìkò” Okelarin was born in London, then spent his early years in Lagos, Nigeria before returning to London. His work explores identity, culture and heritage and he has worked for the fashion and music industry.
Her work has been exhibited at South Bank Center in London, the Gallery of African Art in London and the Rele Gallery in Nigeria.
This striking photo is taken from a series of images of black women to highlight how they feel about themselves, exploring issues such as racial prejudice, identity and spirituality.
The subject of this photo, Laurence, explains how she came to love body art.
“My skin marks and tattoos are an illustration of my spiritual growth and an appreciation of my ancestry.
“Most of the time I’m very comfortable in my own skin but I have to admit it’s something I had to learn to do. Being in the body of a black / West African woman and not being celebrated / represented has not been easy.
“I had to learn to love my body. The more I understood myself, the easier it became.”
Comfort by David Cantor
David Cantor is a photographer who says “street portraits are my passion”.
“This wonderful genre offers endless possibilities to interact with people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and origins,” he continues.
A number of his images were selected for special recognition, including his portrait Abdel Tavares, which was one of the photographs chosen to be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize.
This heartwarming image was taken on a hot summer day in a London community garden.
London Lockdown by Tom Ferrie
Tom Ferrie is a London-based photographer. He has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, India, Europe, Central America and Africa.
This image of a lady shopping was taken at Turnpike Lane in London’s Haringey in June 2020, the week the stores reopened during the lockdown.
The London boroughs hardest hit by the pandemic all had large BAME communities. This includes Brent, Haringey, Hackney, and Tower Hamlets.
The image is from a series of photographs of Ferrie taken during the height of the pandemic.