James Barnor: Ever Young
From Ghanaian independence to London in the swinging sixties, 40 years of photography by James Barnor
Impressions Gallery in partnership with Autograph ABP presents a retrospective of James Barnor’s street and studio photographs, spanning Ghana and London from the late 1940s to early 1970s. This major touring exhibition has only previously been shown at Rivington Place, London and the South African National Gallery, Capetown.
James Barnor’s career covers a remarkable period in history, bridging continents and photographic genres to create a transatlantic narrative marked by his passionate interest in people and cultures. Through the medium of portraiture, Barnor’s photographs represent societies in transition: Ghana moving towards its independence and London becoming a cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolis.
The exhibition showcases a range of street and studio photographs – modern and vintage – with elaborate backdrops, fashion portraits in glorious colour, as well as social documentary features, many commissioned for pioneering South African magazine Drum during the ‘swinging 60s’ in London.
In the early 1950s, Barnor’s photographic studio Ever Young in Jamestown, Accra was visited by civil servants and dignitaries, performance artists and newly-weds. During this period, Barnor captured intimate moments of luminaries and key political figures such as Ghana’s first Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah as he pushed for pan-African unity, and commonwealth boxing champion Roy Ankrah. In 1960s London, Barnor photographed Muhammad Ali training for a fight at Earl’s Court, BBC Africa Service reporter Mike Eghan posing at Piccadilly Circus and a multinational cohort of fashionable Drum cover girls.
A touring exhibition from Autograph ABP curated by Renée Mussai.
The exhibition James Barnor: Ever Young emerged as a direct result of archival research made possible by a four-year grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) between 2008 – 2011, closely linked to the establishment of Autograph ABP’s Archive and Research Centre.
James Barnor was born in Accra, Ghana in 1929 and started his photographic career with a makeshift studio in Jamestown. From the early 1950s he operated 'Ever Young' studio in Accra and worked as a photographer for the Daily Graphic newspaper, as well as Drum, Africa’s foremost lifestyle and politics magazine. He left Ghana for the UK in 1959 and studied photography at Medway College of Art in Kent. He returned to Ghana in 1969 as a representative for Agfa Gevaert to introduce colour processing facilities in Accra. He is currently retired and lives in Brentford, London.
Since Autograph ABP's archival intervention in 2010, Barnor's work has been shown internationally at venues including Havard University, Boston; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Rivington Place, London; Tate Britain, London; and Paris Photo 2012. His photographs are represented in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate and Government Art Collection in Britain, as well as in numerous international private collections.
Our visitors say...
“A life well spent.”
“Great photographs, very striking. A great contribution made to photography.”
“A brilliant exhibition of photographs from a very lovely gentleman.”
1 hour 2 minutes
James Barnor talks about his exhibition with Renée Mussai, Head of Archive at Autograph ABP, and curator of Ever Young. Recorded at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, 10 August 2013.