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Street Scenes from the East End, 1950-1980

The Photography of Bandele 'Tex' Ajetunmobi



Bandele ‘Tex’ Ajetunmobi was a self-taught photographer who stowed away on a boat to Britain from Lagos, Nigeria in 1947. He chose to leave Lagos as he found himself an outcast on account of the disability he developed from having polio as a child.

After settling in East London, he began recording the daily lives of his friends and acquaintances, particularly on the streets and in the pubs, shops and clubs around Whitechapel, Stepney and Mile End. He continued to document the area for almost half a century, focusing on immigrant communities and the multi-racial nature of the area.

His photographs, rarely seen outside his circle of family and friends at the time, are an important historical document of social and cultural life in the East End. What distinguishes this archive from other photography of the post-war period is its informal nature and Ajetunmobi’s ability to capture the camaraderie between the long-established communities in the area, as well as the recent arrivals from countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. While most of Ajetunmobi’s work was destroyed when he died in 1994, Ajetunmobi's niece - Victoria Loughran - managed to save some two hundred negatives alongside his camera equipment. These are now part of Autograph's collection of photography.

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call for events

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Open Call: Heritage and Culture

Free to enter | Deadline 5 February 2024
Submit your event proposal for the chance to make it happen with Autograph's support. The theme of this call for events is 'heritage and culture', taking inspiration from the photography of Bandele ‘Tex’ Ajetunmobi.

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View highlights from Autograph's collection

Browse highlights from Autograph's unique photography collection, charting the contributions of diverse cultures in Britain over two centuries.

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Banner image: Bandele ‘Tex’ Ajetunmobi, from the series East End Portraits [detail], 1950-1980. Courtesy Autograph, London.

Images on page all courtesy Autograph, London.