A look back at Britain’s black communities in the 70s

Charity Autograph has teamed up with Studiocanal to put on a free exhibition of work by 20th century black photographers to celebrate the release of Idris Elba’s first film as a director, Yardie

Photography agency Autograph was founded in London in 1988, with the aim of supporting and nurturing black photographic practices in the UK.

Based out of a small office above Bon Marché in Brixton and known at the time as the Association of Black Photographers, over the last two decades Autograph has put on a regular programme of exhibitions and events at different galleries and public spaces.

Carnival Sound System, London. n.d. © Armet Francis
Untitled, from the series The Black House, 1973-1976 © Colin Jones

At the same time, the agency has also been publishing various monographs, newspapers and essay collections, and building up its own permanent photographic collection by black creatives. Autograph became a registered charity in 2007 and moved to its now permanent home at Rivington Place in Shoreditch, east London.

Today, the charity continues its mission of exploring identity, representation and human rights by celebrating the work of black artists, and Rivington Place now provides a physical home for its expansive photography archive.

Young Gun, Hackney, London, 1969 © Dennis Morris
Untitled, from the series The Black House, 1973-1976 © Colin Jones

Autograph has delved into this rich archive of images for its latest exhibition, a free show with Studiocanal to mark the upcoming release of actor Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie.

As the film is set between 70s Kingston and 80s Hackney, it is only fitting that the exhibition is on display at the Hackney Picturehouse. Featuring 25 images from Autograph’s archive, the display includes work such as Armet Francis’ photo of a packed out street party littered with soundsystems during Notting Hill Carnival, and Raphael Albert’s snapshots of the Miss Black & Beautiful contest at the Hammersmith Palais from 1972.

Miss Black & Beautiful Sybil McLean with fellow contestants, Hammersmith Palais, London, 1972 © Raphael Albert
Miss Black & Beautiful contest, Hammersmith, London, 1970s © Raphael Albert

Back in the Day: The Autograph Archive x Yardie is on display from August 18 – September 2 2018 at Hackney Picturehouse. More details here (All images courtesy of Autograph)

DESIGNER

Worthing, West Sussex

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER

Frome, Somerset

SENIOR DESIGNER

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire