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Self-portrait in Mirror

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    London (photographed)

  • Date:

    1964 (photographed)
    2012 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Francis, Armet, born 1945 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    gelatin silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • Museum number:

    E.103-2013

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2H, shelf DR34

Born in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica in 1945, photographer Armet Francis moved to London at the age of ten. By his mid-teens Francis was working as an assistant for a West End photographic studio. His early photographs show him experimenting with the camera as a technical device and a tool for self-representation. The camera is a Yashica-Mat LM, an all-mechanical model introduced in 1958, which has an inbuilt light meter. As Francis sets up his shot in front of a mirror, he consciously records himself as a photographer whilst offering an intimate glimpse into his world. The scene challenges ideas of a racially divided society commonly associated with this era.

The V&A acquired nine photographs by Armet Francis as part of the Staying Power project. Photographs by his contemporaries Neil Kenlock and Charlie Phillips 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 mirror reflecting a young black man wearing a striped t-shirt looking into the view finder of camera mounted on a tripod. In the background is a young white woman lying on a bed. The room is decorated with floral wallpaper.

Place of Origin

London (photographed)

Date

1964 (photographed)
2012 (printed)

Artist/maker

Francis, Armet, born 1945 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

gelatin silver print

Dimensions

Width: 254 mm image, Height: 259 mm image, Width: 305 mm paper, Height: 406 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 Armet Francis, 'Self-portrait in Mirror', gelatin silver print, London, 1964, printed 2012

Labels and date

Armet Francis (born 1945)
Self-portrait in Mirror
1964

Francis began his photographic career in
his teens as an assistant in a photographic
studio. By photographing himself in the
mirror, he deliberately records his identity as a
photographer. In contrast to the professionalism
suggested by the Yashica LM twin reflex camera,
the surrounding scene offers an intimate glimpse
into Francis’s personal life.

Gelatin silver print (printed 2012)
Museum no. E.103-2013 [23/7/2016-5/3/2017]
Armet Francis (born 1945)
Self-portrait in Mirror
1964

Francis was born in Jamaica and moved to London aged
ten. He began his photographic career in his teens as an
assistant in a photographic studio. Photographing himself
in the mirror, Francis deliberately records his identity
as a photographer. In contrast to the professional role
suggested by the camera, the surrounding scene offers an
intimate glimpse into Francis’s personal life.

Gelatin silver print (printed 2012)
Museum no. E.103-2013 []
Text label for the exhibition, 'Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s-1990s
16 February – 24 May 2015

Armet Francis (born 1945)
Portrait of a Woman, London
Portrait of a Little Boy, London
1965

These portraits show the skills Francis learned working in
a photographic studio as a teenager. The smiling woman
is his mother. She paid him for the portrait since he was by
then establishing himself as a professional photographer.

Gelatin silver prints (printed 2012)
Museum nos. E.109 to 110-2013 [16/02/2015-24/05/2015]

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Self-portrait; Wallpaper; Bedroom; Photographer; Camera

Categories

Photographs; African Diaspora; Portraits; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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