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Everything In My Hand I Bring

Photograph
C.1953 (photographed), 2011 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Born in 1929, Ghanaian photographer James Barnor documented the shift towards modern living as experienced by black people in both Africa and Britain. In the early 1950s, Barnor set up Ever Young studio in Accra’s Jamestown district where he took photographs of the local community at key stages in their lives. Although intended as personal mementos, the Ever Young photographs also recorded the changes occurring in Ghanaian society in this period.

The modern interior depicted in Barnor’s studio backdrop contrasts with the traditional clothing of the woman seated with a child beside her. Through this photograph the sitter could communicate her participation in the modern, independent aspirations of Ghana regardless of personal circumstances. The fabric of the woman’s dress, patterned with open hands and the statement ‘Everything In My Hand I Bring’, highlights this sentiment. In 1957, Ghana became the first nation in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from the British Empire.

The V&A acquired five photographs by James Barnor 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.
read Studio, street and style: the photography of James Barnor With a practice spanning six decades and two continents, ranging from street to studio and fashion to documentary, Ghanaian photographer James Barnor (b. 1929) is now recognised as a pioneering figure within the history of photography.
Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Gelatin silver print
Brief description
Photograph by James Barnor, 'Everything In My Hand I Bring', gelatin silver print, Accra, Ghana, c.1953, printed 2011, ed. 1/10
Physical description
Black and white, square format photograph of a young black woman and a small child taken in a photographic studio. The woman is seated in the centre of a low stage wearing a dress patterened with the repeated image of a hand holding a heart with light emanating from it. Printed on the dress are the words 'EVERYTHING IN MY HAND I BRING'. She has her hands on her lap and her right index finger is held between the index and thumb of her left hand. She wears a necklace with a flower pendant. On her right hand side as small child presses itself against her leg looking out to the upper right hand side of the image with an upset look on its face. The child wears a floral dress and shoes. Behind them drawn curtains flank a painted backdrop depicting a wealthy colonial-style interior drawing room looking out onto a veranda and garden. The painted scene includes a rug, a small table with flowers on top, curtains, French doors, a Greco-Roman column, a tree and bushes. Below the sitters lies a vinyl mat with a repeated motif of a rose.
Dimensions
  • Image size height: 280mm
  • Image size width: 278mm
Style
Production typeLimited edition
Marks and inscriptions
Signed under image on lower right 'JAMES BARNOR C.1953/2011' and on verso, lower right 'ED 1/10'.
Gallery label
Text label for the exhibition, 'Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s-1990s 16 February – 24 May 2015 James Barnor (born 1929) Everything in My Hand I Bring, 1953 Selina Opong, Policewoman #10, 1954 Wedding Guests in London, 1960 – 69 Eva, London, 1960 Barnor set up a photography studio in Accra in Ghana in 1947. Although intended as personal mementos for the sitters, his studio photographs also record changes in Ghanaian society in the 1950s and ’60s. Policewoman Selina Opong, who poses in one of the photographs, was one of the first female police officers to graduate from the newly established police academy in Accra. Barnor later moved to London, where his reportage work for magazines showed the emergence of a modern, multicultural city. Gelatin silver prints (printed 2011) Museum nos. E.102, 104 to 106-2012(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
Places depicted
Association
Summary
Born in 1929, Ghanaian photographer James Barnor documented the shift towards modern living as experienced by black people in both Africa and Britain. In the early 1950s, Barnor set up Ever Young studio in Accra’s Jamestown district where he took photographs of the local community at key stages in their lives. Although intended as personal mementos, the Ever Young photographs also recorded the changes occurring in Ghanaian society in this period.



The modern interior depicted in Barnor’s studio backdrop contrasts with the traditional clothing of the woman seated with a child beside her. Through this photograph the sitter could communicate her participation in the modern, independent aspirations of Ghana regardless of personal circumstances. The fabric of the woman’s dress, patterned with open hands and the statement ‘Everything In My Hand I Bring’, highlights this sentiment. In 1957, Ghana became the first nation in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from the British Empire.



The V&A acquired five photographs by James Barnor 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
Other number
1/10 - Limited Edition Number
Collection
Accession number
E.105-2012

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Record createdMarch 7, 2012
Record URL
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