James Barnor

7 July - 21 September

Parc des Ateliers

Arles, France

Past exhibition

James Barnor's archive of street and studio portraiture covers a remarkable period in history, bridging continents and photographic genres as it creates a transatlantic narrative marked by his passionate interest in people and cultures.

Part of Les Rencontres d'Arles, presented by Off the Wall Photo Cultures

Barnor documents societies in transition: Ghana moving towardsits independence, and London becoming a multicultural metropolis during the ‘swinging 60s’. His extensive portfolio of street and studio portraiture spans over 60 years and different continents, many commissioned by Drum magazine, Africa’s first Black politics and lifestyle publication.

In the early 1950s, Barnor’s photographic studio Ever Young was visited by civil servants and dignitaries, performance artists and newly-weds. During this period, he captured intimate moments of luminaries such as Kwame Nkrumah as he pushed for pan-African unity, and commonwealth boxing champion Roy Ankrah. In 1960s London, he photographed Mohammad Ali preparing for a fight at London’s Earl’s Court and BBC Africa Service reporter Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus.

Acclaim for James Barnor

Through the research process and retrieval and reassembly, Autograph ABP have unified Barnor's disparate images into a holistic body of work for the first time, and we now have the kind of homecoming in which previously orphaned images are given a second life.

Kobena Mercer

The colours pop, London shines, and the models are so much more than that: they’re women at the forefront of social change, breaking down racial barriers in a city that’s still finding its feet in a modern world

Isobel Jokl, Dig Yorkshire

[The] strength of these portraits lies in the physical context of the subjects. Where images taken of indigenous African people by colonial photographers tended to stress a false sense of the exotic and hence otherness in the physical context, Barnor presents an accurate backdrop, often within a domestic setting. Members of an aspirational working class brim with the optimism and confidence that the viewer is encouraged to associate with the advent of independence.

Daniel Potts, Aesthetica Magazine

In partnership with

Off the Wall Photo Cultures

Off the Wall, cultures photo is a photobook-magazine of several issues. This images album aims to promote emerging photographs and to revive unknown images, establishing a photographic dialog between generations.

About Les Rencontres d'Arles

The Rencontres d'Arles (formerly known as the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d'Arles) is a summer photography festival founded in 1970 by Arles photographer Lucien Clergue, author Michel Tournier and historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette.

Read more about the festival

James Barnor & Autograph ABP

Since 2008, Autograph ABP have curated, digitised, published, and exhibited James Barnor’s archive. This work has been led by Curator / Head of Archive Renée Mussai.

Our exhibition Ever Young: James Barnor, curated by Renee Mussai, has toured to Harvard University in Boston, the National Gallery in Cape Town, Rivington Place in London, and Impressions Gallery in Bradford.

Through our advocacy, Barnor’s work is now included in collections at V&A, TATE, Government Art Collection and numerous private and public collections internationally.

Barnor’s work has been published in our newspapers Ever Young: James Barnor and The Archive in Focus: Back in the Day and our Archive & Research Centre Learning Resource.

Limited edition prints of Barnor’s work are available for sale in the Shop.

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Additional Info

Parc des Ateliers
Arles, France

  • Exhibition Installation
  • James Barnor, The Pastor, Mamprobi, Accra, circa 1955