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Go See: Changing The Story – Photographs of British Life in Black and White – Topfoto

Located on Flitcroft Street, on the eastern edge of London’s Soho area, the A&A Club was an all-night hang-out for young people. Singer Judy Johnson gives them a blues number at the A&A. September 1953
14 October 1938 Crowds of children cheering Queen Mary as she opened a new extension to Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, London, between the wars.

Changing the Story: Photographs of British Life in Black and White (1917-1962)

This really is a fantastic example of how to edit, curate and exhibit an important story from a vast historical photographic resource. A great achievement from the photo library team at TopFoto!
PAN is looking forward to viewing …and listening to the show.

TopFoto say: Changing the Story brings to light a neglected strand in British history, through a series of striking photographs dating from 1917 to 1962, interpreted by award-winning writer and performer Rommi Smith during her time as the inaugural writer-in-residence at leading photographic agency TopFoto. Thirty-four of these revelatory photographs will go on public display for the first time alongside new writing by Smith which responds directly to the photographs.

• Changing the Story runs at The North Wall in Oxford, UK – from 10 until 29 January 2022 and admission is free.

Commissioned to delve into the archive at TopFoto, Smith was struck by how many of the fleeting moments captured by photographers such as Ken Russell and Roger Bamber disrupt monoculturalist ideas of Britishness as white. The photographs include West Indian Naval officers and sailors heading off to war in 1917; excited flag-waving school children in 1938; myth-busting shots of mixed-heritage families onboard the Empire Windrush in 1948; groups of Jamaican men accommodated in underground bunkers known as the ‘Clapham Deep’; carefree children playing on the streets of 1950s Notting Hill; and the only known face-on photograph of jazz singer Judy Johnson in Soho’s A&A Club in the early 1950s.

• View the exhibition catalogue

130 passengers arrived in Southampton, emigrating to Britain from the West Indies. Sisters Veronica and Velveta McGregor (on right) take tea in the train on their way to London, where their father will be waiting. 1953

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