Black is the New Black: Modern Britain’s Past, Present and Future
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24 August 2017, 19:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
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by Simon Frederick
Join us for a special event as we mark Slavery Remembrance Day with a celebration of the Gallery’s largest acquisition of portraits of Afro-Caribbean sitters into the primary collection. The sitters, representing a group of people at the height of their achievements, were photographed by Simon Frederick for a BBC TWO documentary Black is the New Black shown in 2016. With the support of OATH, Simon Frederick has offered the entire portfolio of thirty-nine prints as a gift to the National Portrait Gallery. These will be the subject of a major display at the Gallery in November 2018.
Simon Frederick talks about the profound impact that a painting in the Gallery’s Collection had on him as a child and how it led him to document the extraordinary achievements being made by Britain's black community.
‘I was about 9 years old when my mother took me to the NPG for the first time. I remember being transfixed by the size and scale of The Anti-Slavery Society Convention by Benjamin Robert Haydon. Two decades had passed before I fully understood what this painting symbolised to me and in particular, the dark skinned black man in the painting, Henry Beckford, a freed slave from Jamaica who came to address the Convention. Understanding the weight and impact that his voice and his experience had at that time singlehandedly inspired me to want to create an environment some 170 odd years later, that would allow black people’s voices to be heard and their experiences to be understood, simply as an updated and honest conversation about British identity in the 21st Century’.
- Simon Frederick
Highly regarded to be at the vanguard of his discipline, artist, photographer and director Simon Frederick’s work spans from celebrity portraiture to art exhibitions to global advertising campaigns and TV. He is known for his recent role as a lead judge and co-host alongside Isabella Rossellini on the Sky Arts programme Master of Photography and for his four part series Black is the New Black on BBC TWO.