Photography display celebrates black British pioneers

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GROUND-BREAKING PORTRAIT photography by John Ferguson, the acclaimed national press and documentary photographer, will be hosted outdoors in central Ipswich from Saturday 3 October to Sunday 1 November.

The images, from Ferguson’s notable Black Britannia collection, focuses on black Africans, and black people of African descent, who have achieved success in contemporary Britain.

For Black History Month, Ferguson has selected some of his favourite portraits to be shown in front of Ipswich Town Hall.

Ferguson, an Ipswich resident and Fleet Street’s first black staff photographer, said: “Like many black people throughout history, the people in the photographs have overcome racism and discrimination, and the legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This exhibition pays homage to their resilience and inspirational qualities and celebrates their incredible achievements.”

The collection of images, 14 of which will be on display at the Cornhill, Ipswich, first went on show in central London in 2007 in an exhibition opened by the then prime minister Gordon Brown.

“All too often the black community is portrayed in a negative light”

John Ferguson

The complete Black Britannia collection features striking photographic portraits of 55 inspirational black Britons, who personally inspired John or have made great strides in public life.

Sir Trevor McDonald, Sir Lenny Henry, Naomi Campbell, Paul Ince, Lewis Hamilton, are among the famous faces featured. But individuals employed in a variety of professions such as head teachers and lawyers are also included in the series.

FEATURED: Ms Dynamite (Photo: John Ferguson)

Challenging preconceptions

This new exhibition aims to highlight the accomplishments of these individuals, by promoting a positive image of black Britons and a message to today’s black young people through these aesthetically arresting and high-quality portraits.

Ferguson said: “The aim being, first, to inspire younger black people to broaden their horizons away by providing non-stereotypical role models, and second, to show Ipswich at large, the incredible achievements of individuals away from the all too frequent stereotyping of black people.

“This exhibition is a chance for younger people to become inspired” 

John Ferguson

“I believe that all too often the black community is portrayed in a negative light. I want to challenge this preconception by raising people’s consciousness and awareness to the fantastic contributions made to black Britons not only to UK culture but also to the economy at large. 

“I love that this venue is accessible and free to everyone, an important consideration given that part of the target audience I’d hope to attract would be disengaged youth.

“Ipswich is a multicultural town, and through diversity comes strength and cohesion – consciously and subconsciously. This exhibition is a chance for younger people to become inspired by the portraits and stories of these black men and women.”

Cllr Sarah Barber said: “Ipswich Borough Council is delighted to host this ground-breaking exhibition of portrait photographs by John Ferguson, one of Britain’s most talented black photographers.

“It pays homage to the resilience and accomplishments of black people who have achieved success in contemporary Britain and gives young people in Ipswich an opportunity to be inspired by people that they can relate and connect to.”

The exhibition is free to attend and located in Cornhill, Ipswich, from Saturday 3 October to Sunday 1 November.


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