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Brixton Studio by Harry Jacobs at The Photographer's gallery By Samantha Almon

Brixton Studio by Harry Jacobs at The Photographer's gallery,
5 & 8 Great Newport Street,
WC2 Oct
4 Nov to 16th

llllllllllA collection of portrait photography spanning the decades from the 1950's to 1990's same back drop, a hot palm tree location somewhere far from England where the mixing pot location is set up in a studio set up in Brixton. He captures the authenticity of the times, the changes in street fashion, peoples working professions, the family, the different crews the rise in bi- racial relationships. Following on from black History month in October, Harry Jacobs gives us an intimate insight into Black history, black presence in Brixton in England, The portraits are not exclusive to African descents there are Asian families and European ones. What is most apparent are the similarities and not the differences which some people choose to highlight within the races. The fitting into British culture, through fashion, and the love of family&friends, which is universal. Same pose proud father standing beside the mother who is holding their new born baby; From people from three different continents.

Some of the photos are comical, heart warming. I loved the one of a little two year old next to his toy car with that 'unique' backdrop behind him. Sporting an afro of his decade. The props are fantastic, particularly the bouquet of flowers almost satirical but for the time it captures.

The crews, the cool cats & ladies, the originals, setting trends to be echoed in the following decades. Freezing signatures of life long friends. The viewer builds up a relationship with all these faces and you can't help wonder how their lives were outside of the studio. The community spirit is evident, They are proud, this is their identity, when you remember the politics going on at the time, it is almost like taking a stance.
The photo's are predominantly in black and white print, changing to colour with the times, in the middle of the seventies. Different occasions are caught on camera, still life poses which look quiet theatrical, weddings, the church, love, a birthday, a trio in drag, an open coffin.

I loved the ones taken away from the studio, in the homes of the residents. It felt like a part of my history. One was taken on the streets with a resident beside Muhammad Ali when he visited the area.
A poignant one is of a lady who may have been forgotten. A photo of a pensioner's pass 'a sugar worker'. Who came to this new land and never left, like many said they wanted to do after they made enough money to return home. This became their home and the only home their off spring would have.

The eighties sees a few differences in the fashion stakes between the Brixton people. Identity stakes become more apparent, unlike the decades before where you could see the Blacks embracing all the fashion of the country. Something different happens in the eighties there is a difference between the dress of a white Brixton and a black Brixton. Street fashion is being cultivated in a way not seen before.

It is a fascinating exhibition. Harry Jacob's photos are intimate with over 500 exhibited. The photos are weathered slightly by age, they are small and personal, cluttered together like a family tree. As the decades roll on there is always something to connect with or embrace. What will be of the family, in this millennium? The theme continues with other photographers behind the lens in modern times.

The photographer Eileen Perrier has a love affair with Afro hair with photos of dread locks and natural African hair, dressed in pink.
Jitka Hanzlova took her photo's in Brixton as a temporary artist in residence. Focusing on people and their relationship to place. I found it quite abstract to the Brixton I know which is always busy during the day but she managed to capture these passer-by in a vacuum, owning the space and time, there is a quiet about the photos which I found calming and compelling. I loved the titles of the photos too, very simple yet complicated when you take into light the complexity of the area. Maybe that's what the Jitka was trying do, take away all the propaganda and reveal the implicit beauty of the women in her photos.

By Samantha Almon



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