There’s no limit to our culture.
Before the internet, family photo albums brought out on special occasions would hold the memories of Britain’s Black communities. Now Jesse Bernard investigates how archivists and photographers such as Rudeboys & Rollups, Black In The Day, Adama Jalloh and Bernice Mulenga are bringing the past into the present and ensuring it provides a reference point for the future.
There’s an age old proverb, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ but as the child grows and goes through various stages in life, the collective memory of the village often survives through physical memory. “There’s a consistency with immigrants standing firm in maintaining their identity, whether that’s through traditional clothing, our mother tongues or regular gatherings,” Peckham-based photographer Adama Jalloh says. For decades, Black British artists in communities across the United Kingdom have sought to immortalise the memories of the neighbourhoods that taught them to walk the streets. Photographers – Neil Kenlock in the 1970s who captured many of the Black liberation activists including the British Black Panthers and Liz Johnson Arthur’s work decades later in the 1990s – aimed to capture the essence of the various degrees of Blackness in Britain that reflected the rich, vivid and colorful life of dynamic communities that the mainstream media often doesn’t portray.