In pictures: Photographer James Barnor set for major retrospective

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image copyrightJames Barnor/Autograph
image captionModel Erlin Ibreck pictured in London for Drum magazine, 1966

A British-Ghanaian photographer, whose images captured major social and political changes in London and Accra during the 1950s and 1960s, is having his work exhibited on Piccadilly Circus's big screens, as part of a major retrospective.

James Barnor's work will be displayed at 20:21 BST, for 150 seconds, every night throughout April, followed by an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in May.

image copyrightJames Barnor/Autograph
image captionShop assistant Sick Hagemeyer in Accra, circa 1971

Despite a photography career lasting more than six decades, the 91-year-old became widely known only after an exhibition at the Black Cultural Archives in 2007.

Born in 1929 in Accra, Barnor worked as a photojournalist before establishing the Ever Young portrait studio in the Ghanaian capital.

image copyrightJames Barnor/Autograph
image captionPortrait of James Barnor in front of some of his photographs, Accra, circa 1952

His photography during the 1950s captured the nation as it moved towards independence.

image copyrightJames Barnor/Autograph
image captionGhana's first prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah, wears his prison graduate cap as he kicks a football before the start of an international match at Owusu Memorial Park in Fadama, Accra, 1952
image copyrightJames Barnor/Autograph
image captionFour nurses pose in Barnor's Ever Young Studio, Accra, circa 1957

In 1959, Barnor moved to London to study photography and further develop his skills.

In the UK he worked on assignments for South Africa's Drum magazine, often shooting cover images of black fashion models against London backdrops.

image copyrightJames Barnor/Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière
image captionDrum cover model Erlin Ibreck at Trafalgar Square, London, 1966

His photography also captured the experiences of London's burgeoning African diaspora.

image copyrightJames Barnor/Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière
image captionA group of friends at a wedding in London, circa 1966
image copyrightJames Barnor/Autograph
image captionBBC Africa Service reporter Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus, London, 1967

Barnor returned to Ghana in the 1970s, where he established the country's first colour processing lab while continuing his work as a portrait photographer.

image copyrightJames Barnor/October Gallery
image captionAn Agip calendar model in 1974

He relocated again to London in the 1990s.

Following the 2007 exhibition at the Black Cultural Archives, Barnor's work was featured in a number of international exhibitions and gradually became more widely recognised.

Reflecting on his career, Barnor says: "I [once] came across a magazine with an inscription that said, 'A civilisation flourishes when men plant trees under which they never sit.'

"But it's not only plants - putting something in somebody's life, a young person's life, is the same as planting a tree that you will not cut and sell.

"That has helped me a lot in my work - sometimes, the more you give, the more you get."

James Barnor: Accra/London - A Retrospective opens at the Serpentine Gallery on 19 May 2021. A virtual event, Portraits for the Future, takes place on 31 March.

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