JIS News

An exhibition featuring the works of three Jamaican born photographers opened last week at the Museum of London.
Titled, ‘Roots to Reckoning’, the exhibition features the works of photographers Armet Francis, Charlie Phillips and Neil Kenlock. More than 100 images reflecting the energy that have shaped the lives of London’s black communities since World War II, are on show.
The Museum of London is hoping that the ‘Roots to Reckoning’ exhibition will help tell the story and show the cultural and artistic impact of London’s black communities. It said that Francis, Kenlock and Phillips are significant photographers, whose work document a key chapter in London’s post war life.
In interviews with JIS News, the three veteran photographers felt that the exhibition was due recognition of the contribution of Britain’s black communities.
Mr. Kenlock, who was born in Port Antonio and started photography while at school in the 1960s, said he was delighted by the exhibition and felt that the Museum of London had recognised the need to reflect the multicultural make-up of the city.
“I did not expect 30 years later that anyone would be interested in my work. My pictures were about the struggles and difficulties Jamaicans and other West Indians faced. They are about how difficult it was to get employment, housing and to educate your children,” he said.
Mr. Phillips, who was born in Kingston, said he felt an exhibition like ‘Roots to Reckoning’ should have been done a long time ago in London.
“This exhibition is a historic record of the life of the Afro Caribbean community. I am glad that the Museum of London decided to do this but there is a need for more outlets for black photographers. This exhibition should be seen in schools and in Jamaica as well. It is a very important part of our history,” he said.
For Mr. Francis, originally from St. Elizabeth, the exhibition “is a work in progress”. He said the level of production was brilliant and that the pieces by the three photographers gave a very comprehensive view of the presence and history of Britain’s black communities.
“It should not be the end. It’s the beginning. It (the exhibition) should be available to individuals and other institutions. It’s a work in progress. I have always seen the possibility of an archive where our presence and our work would one day be put together in some structure. I have been working for this for the last 20 years,” he said.
The Museum of London said it intended to create a permanent Black Independent Photographer Archive for its collection, based on the work of the three Jamaican born photographers.
Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Gail Mathurin was one of the speakers at the official opening of the exhibition.