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Selina Opong, Policewoman #10

Photograph
1954 (photographed)
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.

Barnor’s photograph of the young policewoman Selina Opong reflects the sense of civic pride and the new ambitions of urban professionals as Ghana looked to independence. Titled as ‘Policewoman #10’, Selina Opong was the tenth female police officer to graduate from the newly established police academy in Accra. 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
Black and white, silver gelatin, fibre based square format photograph.
Brief description
Photograph by James Barnor, 'Selina Opong, Policewoman #10', gelatin silver print, Ever Young Studio, Accra, c.1954, printed 2011, ed. 1/10
Physical description
Black and white square format photograph of a young woman dressed as a police officer taken in a phpto studio. The young woman is aged around 20-25 years old, she is standing in a forward facing, quarter-turn position to her right. She is smiling and saluting with her right hand. She is wearing a three-quarter length skirt, white socks and black shoes. Behind her are a pair of curtains drawn about halfway behind, behind them hangs a painted backdrop depicting a wealthy colonial-style interior drawing room looking out to a veranda and garden. Within the painted interior are depicted; a rug, as small table with flowers on top, curtains and French doors which lead to the painted veranda, a Greco-Roman column, a tree and bushes. Below the sitter lies a vinyl Mat with a repeated motif of a rose in a Victorian style.
Dimensions
  • Image size height: 280mm
  • Image size width: 278mm
Marks and inscriptions
Signed lower right under image '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.
Place 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.



Barnor’s photograph of the young policewoman Selina Opong reflects the sense of civic pride and the new ambitions of urban professionals as Ghana looked to independence. Titled as ‘Policewoman #10’, Selina Opong was the tenth female police officer to graduate from the newly established police academy in Accra. 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 object
E.105-2012 (Object)
Other number
1/10 - Limited Edition Number
Collection
Accession number
E.106-2012

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Record createdMarch 7, 2012
Record URL
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