- PriceFree Admission
- Date –
- LocationArena Gallery
- Times9am - 9pm daily
MAC and Autograph ABP are proud to present the first major solo exhibition of photographs by the late Raphael Albert – cultural promoter, entrepreneur and photographer.
For more than three decades from the late 1960s, Albert organised and documented numerous black British beauty pageants and other cultural events, while creating a portfolio of photographs of aspiring models in his home studio. His long and successful career as a promoter and chronicler of pageants included the establishment of Miss Black and Beautiful, Miss West Indies in Great Britain, and Miss Grenada.
These competitions celebrated the global ‘Black is Beautiful’ aesthetic of the 1970s in a local west London context: paired with the obligatory bathing costumes and high heels, Albert’s contestants often sported large Afro hairstyles, inventing and reinventing themselves on stage while articulating a particular and multifaceted black femininity as part of a widely contested and ambiguous cultural performance.
In 1959 political activist Claudia Jones incorporated a black beauty competition in her first London carnival. A decade later, the international Miss World 1970 contest became one of the most controversial editions in beauty pageant history, marked by South Africa’s ‘two-girl policy’ and feminist protesters armed with smoke bombs and rotten tomatoes – while the Grenadian Jennifer Hosten was crowned as one of the first women of colour to win the title.
Albert’s photographs serve as testament to this profound moment of self-articulation and collective celebration in London’s pan Afro-Caribbean communities, and beyond.
Curator: Renée Mussai
Associate Curator: Karin Bareman
Miss Black and Beautiful is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Original research and preservation of Raphael Albert’s archive was made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011.
Autograph ABP would like to thank Bayeux Ltd for their ongoing support, especially Steve Vallis and the master printers who produced the modern gelatin silver prints included in this exhibition. Special thanks to Pendragon Frames, Spectrum Photographic, Genesis Imaging,Typographics EDT, Omni Graphics, ADI, Alison Wright PR, Zoë Maxwell, Michael McMillan, Sybil Mclean, Gloria Bedeau, Keri-Luke Campbell, and the volunteers who helped to preserve Raphael Albert’s archive over the years.
All photographs © Raphael Albert. Courtesy of Autograph ABP, unless stated otherwise.
Vintage prints and ephemera: © Raphael Albert. Courtesy of Autograph ABP. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Autograph ABP is a charity that works internationally in photography and film,cultural identity, race, representation and human rights.
Image: Miss Black and Beautiful Sybil McLean with fellow contestants , Hammersmith Palais, London, 1972.
From the portfolio 'Black Beauty Pageants'.Courtesy of © Raphael Albert/Autograph ABP