Raphael Albert
MISS BLACK AND BEAUTIFUL

21 April - 1 July 2018
BIRMINGHAM: MAC

FREE ENTRY

Curated by Renée Mussai

MAC BIRMINGHAM

Cannon Hill Park

Birmingham

B12 9QH


past exhibition

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About the exhibition

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

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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.


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.

IN THE PRESS

The New York Times

About the artist

Raphael Albert (1935-2009) was born on the Caribbean island of Grenada. After moving to London in 1953, he studied photography at Ealing Technical College whilst working part-time at Lyons cake factory. Albert soon became a freelance photographer working for black British newspapers such as West Indian World – for whom one of his first assignments was documenting Miss Jamaica – as well as The GleanerCaribbean Times and New World.

In 1970 he established the popular Miss Black and Beautifulcontest, followed by Miss West Indies in Great BritainMiss Teenager of the West Indies in Great Britain and Miss Grenada. In addition to his production company Albert Promotions, he also founded his own magazine Charisma in 1984, and the associated Albert’s Girl Academy of Modelling. 



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Also on BY AUTOGRAPH AT MAC BIRMINGHAM

Andrew Jackson: From a Small Island

5 May - 8 July 2018

Free exhibition

FOLLOW AUTOGRAPH 

Albert remained committed to documenting the West Indian communities in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham throughout his life, taking home-studio portrait photographs for local families, and avidly documenting weddings, christenings, and other social events.

In 2007 Albert co-organised a Black History Month display of his and other photographers’ work entitled Miss West Indies in Great Britain: Celebrating 30 Years of Beauty Pageants (1963-1993) at the Hammersmith and Fulham Information Centre.  His work is now represented in the national collections of the V&A and TATE Britain.

ON TOUR

An Autograph touring exhibition

Miss Black and Beautiful first premiered at our London gallery in 2016.

FIND OUT MORE

Read Maurice Berger's review in The New York Times

EXHIBITION SUPPORTED BY

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
MAC Birmingham

SPECIAL THANKS

Original research and preservation of Raphael Albert’s archive was made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011.

Autograph 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, 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.

Banner Images: 1) Raphael Albert, Miss Black & Beautiful Sybil McLean with fellow contestants, Hammersmith Palais, London, 1972. From the portfolio 'Black Beauty Pageants'. Courtesy of © Raphael Albert/Autograph. 2) Raphael Albert, (unidentified) Miss West Indies in Great Britain, Hammersmith, London, late 1970s/80s. From the portfolio 'Black Beauty Pageants'. Courtesy of © Raphael Albert/Autograph. 3) Raphael Albert, Holly posing at Blythe Road, Hammersmith, London, early 1970s. From the portfolio 'Black Beauty Pageants'. Courtesy of © Raphael Albert/Autograph ABP.