Pioneering Photography on Display in Ipswich for Black History Month


Ground-breaking portrait photography by John Ferguson, one of Britain’s most talented Black photographers and the acclaimed national press and documentary photographer, will be hosted outdoors in central Ipswich from Saturday 3 October to Sunday 1 November. The images, from John’s acclaimed Black Britannia collection, focus on African people, and those of African descent, who have achieved success in contemporary Britain.


Benjamin Zephaniah photographed in London for inclusion in the ‘Black Britannia’ photographic exhibition.

The collection of stunning images first went on show in central London in 2007 in an exhibition opened by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This October, Ipswich is pleased to host a selection of images from the collection in an outdoor exhibition on the Cornhill.

British singer/songwriter Billy Ocean, photographed in London for inclusion in the ‘Black Britannia’ photograph

The exhibition has been funded and supported by a local event and engagement partnership between Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich Central and the New Anglia LEP.

John, an Ipswich resident and Fleet Street’s first Black staff photographer, says: “Like many Black people throughout history, the people in the photographs have overcome racism and discrimination, and the legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This exhibition pays homage to their resilience and inspirational qualities and celebrates their incredible achievements.”

Black Britannia features striking photographic portraits of 55 inspirational Black Britons, who personally inspired John or have made great strides in public life. Of the 55 Black Britons, some well-known faces such as Sir Trevor McDonald, Sir Lenny Henry, Naomi Campbell, Paul Ince, Lewis Hamilton, and others from various occupations such as head teachers to showbusiness, boxers to lawyers – people from all walks of life.

British singer/songwriter Joan Aramtrading, photographed in London for inclusion in the ‘Black Britannia’ photographic exhibition.

For Black History Month 2020, John has selected some of his favourite portraits to be shown in front of Ipswich Town Hall throughout October. The exhibition aims to highlight the accomplishments of these individuals, by promoting a positive image of Black Britons and a message to today’s Black young people through these aesthetically arresting and high-quality portraits.

Black Britannia John Ferguson & Gordon Brown

John explains: “The aim being, first, to inspire younger Black people to broaden their horizons away by providing non-stereotypical role models, and second, to show Ipswich at large, the incredible achievements of individuals away from the all too frequent stereotyping of black people.

“I believe that all too often the Black community is portrayed in a negative light. I want to challenge this preconception by raising people’s consciousness and awareness to the fantastic contributions made to Black Britons not only to UK culture but also to the economy at large.

“I love that this venue is accessible and free to everyone, an important consideration given that part of the target audience I’d hope to attract would be disengaged youth.

“Ipswich is a multicultural town, and through diversity comes strength and cohesion – consciously and subconsciously. This exhibition is a chance for younger people to become inspired by the portraits and stories of these Black men and women.”

Cllr Sarah Barber, Portfolio Holder for the town centre, said: “Ipswich Borough Council is delighted to host this ground-breaking exhibition of portrait photographs by John Ferguson, one of Britain’s most talented Black photographers.

“It pays homage to the resilience and accomplishments of Black people who have achieved success in contemporary Britain and gives young people in Ipswich an opportunity to be inspired by people that they can relate and connect to.”

The exhibition is free to attend and located in Cornhill, Ipswich, from Saturday 3 October to Sunday 1 November