Not currently on display at the V&A

St Marks Church Choir Boys, Hackney

Photograph
1970s (photographed), 2010 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Dennis Morris moved to Britain from Jamaica in the early 1960s and began taking photographs from the age of eight. His personal photographs of British Caribbean community life in Hackney came to form the series Growing Up Black.

Morris became interested in photography through the church, after joining a photographic club that had been set up for the St. Marks Church choir he was part of. Some of his first photographs are of the choirboys dressed in their formal Eton suits, a style of clothing worn by pupils at Eton College in Windsor. The formality of this clothing and the church setting gives a sense of the English traditions Morris and his fellow choristers encountered growing up in London. Morris recalls the experience happily, ‘this is where it all began for me. This is how we looked in our Eton suits. We were little devilish angels.’

The V&A acquired ten photographs by Dennis Morris as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleGrowing Up Black (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Gelatin silver print
Brief Description
Photograph by Dennis Morris, 'St Marks Church Choir Boys, Hackney', from the series Growing Up Black, gelatin silver print, London, ca. 1970, printed 2010
Physical Description
Black and white photograph of a group of young black choir boys seated in the pews of an ornate church. There are five boys sat in two rows, seen from a diagonal perspective. In the foreground, the ends of the wooden pews are in focus. All five boys wear the same choir-boy uniform with a stiff, white collar. Each of the boys looks in a different direction, the one in the centre of the frame appears contemplative.
Dimensions
  • Image size height: 68.5cm
  • Image size width: 45.5cm
  • Paper size height: 83.8cm
  • Paper size width: 66.0cm
  • Mount size height: 92.0cm
  • Mount size width: 68.0cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(signed and titled on the reverse)
Gallery Label
Text label for the exhibition, 'Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s-1990s 16 February – 24 May 2015 Dennis Morris (born 1960) St Mark’s Church Choir Boys, Hackney Dignity in Poverty, Hackney 4 Aces Club, Count Shelley Sound System, Hackney From the series Growing Up Black 1970 – 74 Born in Jamaica, Morris became interested in photography through a club at his church in London. His personal photographs of British Caribbean community life in Hackney during the 1960s and ’70s came to form this series. Music is a key feature of Morris’s work, particularly the sound system subculture that was brought to London by British Caribbean migrants. Gelatin silver prints (printed 2010) Museum nos. E.1485, 1488, 1490-2010(16/02/2015-24/05/2015)
Credit line
Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Object history
The V&A acquired this photograph as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
Dennis Morris moved to Britain from Jamaica in the early 1960s and began taking photographs from the age of eight. His personal photographs of British Caribbean community life in Hackney came to form the series Growing Up Black.



Morris became interested in photography through the church, after joining a photographic club that had been set up for the St. Marks Church choir he was part of. Some of his first photographs are of the choirboys dressed in their formal Eton suits, a style of clothing worn by pupils at Eton College in Windsor. The formality of this clothing and the church setting gives a sense of the English traditions Morris and his fellow choristers encountered growing up in London. Morris recalls the experience happily, ‘this is where it all began for me. This is how we looked in our Eton suits. We were little devilish angels.’



The V&A acquired ten photographs by Dennis Morris as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic Reference
Morris, D. Growing Up Black (London: Autograph ABP, 2012), illustrated, pg. 19
Collection
Accession Number
E.1485-2010

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record createdFebruary 1, 2011
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