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


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

Inspired by Peter Fryer’s seminal book Staying Power, The History of Black People in Britain (1984), this exhibition focuses on a period of time when photography served as an archival tool to capture historical moments. From documentary and 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.

The exhibition presents iconic visual records of city life and local heroes by Dennis Morris and Charlie Philips, photographic journalism by Neil Kenlock, and images of the ‘swinging sixties’ by James Barnor. Also featured are self-taught Colin Jones and his infamous images of youth alienation, powerful images of uprisings and protest captured by Pogus Caesar, and allegorical portraits by Ingrid Pollard. While music is celebrated through Syd Shelton’s The Specials Fans and Gavin Watson’s insight into the Ska youth sub-culture, representations of beauty and aesthetics are explored by Armet Francis, Jennie Baptiste, Al Vandenberg and Raphael Albert.

Staying Power 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.

Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s – 1990s
15 January – 30 June 2015
Free admission

Black Cultural Archives
1 Windrush Square, Brixton
London SW2 1EF
T: +44 (0)203 757 8500

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

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.

 Source: Black Cultural Archives


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