Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is graced with a photographic collection by one of Britain’s most important photographers Vanley Burke. Born in Jamaica he arrived in Birmingham at the age of 15, since then he has captured some iconic imagery through his lens not only immortalising a period of time but also the culture and community in its raw form. The display is close to me as I have grown up in Handsworth and Hockley, there has always been a stigma around Handsworth and its community we had the riots in the 80’s then during the 90’s and early 2000’s the area was synonymous with gang and gun culture. When visiting and observing the images it will give many an insight into what life was really like during times of outright racism and the adjustment of those who had migrated to the UK. Aside the reality there are many glimmers of light from the community, from the happiness of youth to matrimony.
The exhibition spans through generations of the area, firstly with the era of migration of people from Jamaica, day to day life, protests, to the sea of people who turned out to see Muhammed Ali on his visit to the city. Crazily enough some of the subjects in his photography come full circle with him reconnecting with some of those he took photos of early in his career (visit the exhibition to see this no spoiler alerts here)
Personally I would like to see a wider spectrum of his work on display, but hey you cant get everything. I’d recommend you visit as it is a great insight into Vanley’s life and those from the Caribbean community in Birmingham.