Documenting the African diaspora has been Armet Francis’ mission in photography for more than four decades. Francis immigrated as a young child from Jamaica to Britain in the 1950s. This experience of being unrooted, and politically alienated produced a profound sense of dislocation and impact on his life. Feeling culturally displaced, Francis turned to photography as an aid to share his desire to connect with the rich and diverse Pan-African world.
In 2008, Autograph commissioned Francis to produce this series of portraits, titled Windrush. Following the Second World War, thousands of people from Britain’s colonies were invited by the British government to relocate to the UK to help rebuild Britain after the war. They, along with their descendants, are often referred to as the Windrush generation, after the ship HMT Empire Windrush on which the first group arrived in 1948. These portrait photographs are a critical intervention that give names to the faces of those who journeyed on that historic voyage which changed Britain forever.
Images from this commission are currently on display alongside other works celebrating the resilience and survival of African diasporic cultures at Autograph’s gallery until 20 January 2024. Find out more about the exhibition, Beyond The Black Triangle, here.
Armet Francis (born 1945, Jamaica) is best known for his social documentary, advertising, and fashion images. He began working in a commercial photographic studio as a teenager, going on to forge a career shooting commissions for holiday camps, and assignments for The Times Magazine, The Sunday Times, BBC and Channel 4 amongst others.
His early images offer a personal record of the world around him, capturing the essence of black British identity; in 1969 he began his now celebrated project The Black Triangle: People of the African Diaspora and Children of the Black Triangle.
Francis’s works have been shown in exhibitions including Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s-Now, Tate Britain (2021); Get Up, Stand Up Now! Generations of Black Creative Pioneers, Somerset House (2019); In a Different Light: New Acquisitions, Autograph, London (2017); Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s-1990s, Black Cultural Archives and V&A (2015); Roots to Reckoning: The Photography of Armet Francis, Neil Kenlock and Charlie Phillips, Museum of London (2005); Reflections of the Black Experience: 10 Black Photographers, Brixton Art Gallery (1986); Armet Francis: The Black Triangle Series: People of the African Diaspora, The Photographers' Gallery (1983); Armet Francis, Commonwealth Institute (1974) amongst others.
His works are held in public collections including Autograph, British Library, Museum of London, Science Museum Group and the Victoria and Albert Museum amongst others.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list