Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C

Self-portrait in Mirror

Photograph
1964 (photographed), 2012 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
gelatin silver print
Brief Description
Photograph by Armet Francis, 'Self-portrait in Mirror', gelatin silver print, London, 1964, printed 2012
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.
Dimensions
  • Image width: 254mm
  • Image height: 259mm
  • Paper width: 305mm
  • Paper height: 406mm
Style
Gallery Label
  • 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)
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
Place Depicted
Summary
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.
Associated Objects
Collection
Accession Number
E.103-2013

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record createdOctober 5, 2013
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