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The Black House

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Islington (Holloway Road specifically, photographed)

  • Date:

    1973-1976 (photographed)
    2012 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jones, Colin , born 1936 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print. Jones typically used a Leica with a Summicron 35mm f/2 lens to take his photographs for <i>The Black House</i> series. He did not use a meter or any artificial light to create the images. Using minimal equipment like this was less invasive for the people he was photographing.

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • Museum number:

    E.300-2013

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case SP, shelf 3

From 1973-1976 British photographer Colin Jones (born 1936) documented life inside the Islington-based Harambee housing project for young black people. Jones originally compiled the series for a Sunday Times Magazine article, and controversially titled it 'The Black House', recalling the name the refuge was known by in the media and local community. The house was given this name because of its close proximity to an infamous Black Power commune also called the Black House, led by the British black revolutionary Michael de Freitas or ‘Michael X’ from 1969 to 1970. Jones was looking to play on the negative associations with black power and youth delinquency that the label of ‘The Black House’ suggested. His images instead present youth alienation in the black community as a direct result of these stereotypes.

The V&A acquired three of Jone’s historic photographs from The Black House series as part of the Staying Power project. A photograph by Dennis Morris depicting the original Black House associated with Michael X was 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 two young black men standing in the doorway of a house covered in grafitti with terms like 'BLACK POWER' and 'WAR'.

Place of Origin

Islington (Holloway Road specifically, photographed)

Date

1973-1976 (photographed)
2012 (printed)

Artist/maker

Jones, Colin , born 1936 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print. Jones typically used a Leica with a Summicron 35mm f/2 lens to take his photographs for The Black House series. He did not use a meter or any artificial light to create the images. Using minimal equipment like this was less invasive for the people he was photographing.

Marks and inscriptions

Signed and inscribed by artist on verso in pencil, certified and stamped by Autograph ABP verso

Dimensions

Width: 47 cm image, Height: 31 cm image, Width: 50.5 cm paper, Height: 40.5 cm 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 Colin Jones from the series The Black House, gelatin silver print, London, 1973-76, printed 2012

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

Jones, C., The Black House (Munich: Prestel, 2006), illustrated, unpaginated

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Graffiti; Doors; Racial politics; Youth

Categories

African Diaspora; Photographs; Black History; Politics

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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