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Beauty Salon

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    London (photographed)

  • Date:

    1960-1970 (photographed)
    2012 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Albert, Raphael, born 1935 - died 2009 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver fibre-based print

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • Museum number:

    E.315-2013

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case SP, shelf 6

Grenadian born photographer Raphael Albert (1935-2009) was committed to celebrating the growing black population in Britain. Whilst living in Hammersmith, West London he began to organise and photograph a host of black beauty pageants from the 1960s to the 1980s, mostly targeted at women from the British Caribbean community.

Women were extravagantly styled for these events, adopting the hairstyle and adornment trends of the period. Local beauty salons with expertise in black hairstyling were often used by pageants preparing to compete. This salon also features a narrative of academic achievement in the range of graduation photographs on display.

The V&A acquired seven of Albert’s photographs documenting beauty pageants and the British Caribbean community in London 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.

Physical description

A black and white photograph of a young black woman having her hair styled. Her hair has been styled elaborately with pearls fixed into the arrangement. She sits behind a desk with floral cards and a graduation photograph on it. The black woman styling her hair wears a patterned outfit and lots of jewellery, she also has a short, wavy relaxed hairdo with two tones of colour. The room is decorated with panelling and floral wallpaper, and there is a large oval mirror. There are two further graduation photographs displayed on the walls alongside other items. To the left of the image, under the mirror, there is a mannequin head with a short dark wig on it, this sits on a low cabinet with a box of 'Scottie's MAN SIZE TISSUES' in front of it.

Place of Origin

London (photographed)

Date

1960-1970 (photographed)
2012 (printed)

Artist/maker

Albert, Raphael, born 1935 - died 2009 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver fibre-based print

Dimensions

Height: 280 mm image, Width: 280 mm image, Height: 405 mm paper, Width: 305 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 Raphael Albert, 'Beauty Salon', from the portfolio Black Beauty Pageants, gelatin silver print, London, c. 1960s/70s, printed 2012

Labels and date

Raphael Albert (1935 – 2009)
Untitled
Untitled
The Harder They Come
Beauty Salon
Untitled
Miss Black & Beautiful
From the series Black Beauty Pageants
1960 – 79

This series of photographs echoes the sentiment of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement, which started in America in the 1960s. The movement encouraged black people to embrace their natural beauty. Albert became interested in black British beauty pageants while working as a freelance photographer for the newspaper West Indian World. He founded the Miss Teenager and Miss West Indies in Great Britain contests in 1974. He viewed the contests as a way of restoring confidence within his community.

Gelatin silver prints (printed 2012)
Museum nos. E.312 to 317-2013
[16/02/2015-24/05/2015]

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Fashion; Wigs; Graduation; Hair; Beauty; Beauty

Categories

African Diaspora; Photographs; Hair and hairstyles

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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