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Flat to Let

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Ladbroke Grove (Sign in the window of a newsagent, corner of Ladbroke Grove and Chesterton Road, photographed)

  • Date:

    circa 1959 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Phillips, Charlie , born 1944 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • Museum number:

    E.259-2011

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case SP, shelf 4

Charlie Phillips moved to London from Jamaica in 1956 and began to document life in his Notting Hill community, taking photographs with a Kodak brownie camera he had been given by a black American serviceman. His photographs have become a visual record of London in the 1960s, especially of the growing black population and the experiences they faced.

The overt racism of the flat advertisement is evidence of the kind of discrimination against the emerging black community, which persisted in Britain throughout the post-war period. Refusing people housing because of their race was comparable to the racial segregation in the United States at the time. Although segregation was not legally enforced in Britain, the press often referred to a British ‘colour bar’ to describe the continuing discrimination. Notting Hill became one of the few areas where black people could find housing, but conditions were often poor as local landlords like Peter Rachman took the opportunity to exploit tenants.

The V&A acquired ten photographs by Charlie Phillips as part of the Staying Power project. Photographs by Dennis Morris, which document living conditions for the black community in Hackney during the 1970s, were also acquired as part of the 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.

Physical description

A black and white photograph of a piece of lined note paper which has been pinned up with two drawing pins, reading 'FLAT TO LET 3. Rooms K+B [kitchen and bathroom], Married Couple Only, No Coloured, Tel Pad [telephone Paddington] 6211.'

Place of Origin

Ladbroke Grove (Sign in the window of a newsagent, corner of Ladbroke Grove and Chesterton Road, photographed)

Date

circa 1959 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Phillips, Charlie , born 1944 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions

Width: 264 mm image, Height: 272 mm image, Width: 287 mm paper, Height: 401 mm paper

Object history note

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.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Charlie Phillips, 'Flat to Let', gelatin silver print, London, c.1959

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

image appears on page 11
Phillips, Charlie and Mike Phillips. Notting Hill in the Sixties. London: Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, 1991, ISBN 0 85315 751 0

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Housing; Racism; Advertisement

Categories

Photographs; Black History; African Diaspora

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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