Staying Power

The black British experience is seen through the eyes of key contemporary photographers.

The display features the highlights of a seven-year project to increase the number of black British photographers and images of black Britain in the V&A collection. Working with the Black Cultural Archives, the museum has been able to collect 118 works by 17 artists, as well as oral histories from the photographers, their relatives and the people depicted in the pictures.

Charting a 40 year-period between the 1950s-90s, the works span fashion, music and family life, to experiences of racial abuse, discrimination and immigration. Not only do they raise awareness of the contribution of black Britons to British culture and society, but also to the art of photography. Among the artists featured are Al Vandenberg, Maxine Walker, Ingrid Pollard and Yinka Shonibare.

A concurrent exhibition runs at the Black Cultural Archives until 30 June 2015.

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One of the most influential pioneers of black photography in Britain, Armet Francis, is featured in the display. Francis spent the early years of his life in rural Jamaica with his grandparents until he moved to join his mum and dad in London aged 10. He was the first black photographer to have a solo exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery with his cross-cultural project The Black Triangle, which was shot in Britain, Africa and the Caribbean.

During the 1980s Francis also became actively involved in supporting the practice of black photography in Britain and co-founded The Association of Black Photographers (now Autograph ABP) in 1988.

Venue details

V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) Cromwell Road London SW7 2RL 020 7942 2000

Entry details

Free entry to all
50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

Daily, 10am – 5.45pm (Fri until 10pm)

What the critics say


'A powerful reminder that the history of black people in Britain is becoming – quite literally – the history of British people as a whole'