Charlie Phillips' Archive Exhibition - post Carnival Retrospective at Muswell Hill Gallery

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Charlie Phillips' Archive Exhibition - post Carnival Retrospective at Muswell Hill Gallery
The Archive Exhibition features 10 images that document London’s African-Caribbean community in Notting Hill.

LONDON.- Following on from from their successful Alan Braidwood Spring Exhibition & Azubuike Ani’s “Our Sacred World’, the Muswell Hill Gallery announced a post Carnival exhibition celebrating London’s Notting Hill life through a lense by “one of Britain’s great photo-portraitists”, Charlie Phillips, who will be on hand to talk about his definitive photographs.

The Archive Exhibition features 10 images that document London’s African-Caribbean community in Notting Hill - best seen in Charlie’s ground-breaking book “Notting Hill in the Sixties” which is a collection of iconic images of the Windrush generation. His photos capture the richness and complexity of the lives of the immigrant community, and are a hugely important archive of British culture.

In 2003, the Museum of London exhibited Phillips’s work, and it has featured regularly in exhibitions since then. His photograph of a young Notting Hill couple is now part of the V&A’s collection. Simon Schama included Phillips’s work in his book and TV series The Face of Britain', and in 2020, Steve McQueen requested Phillips take his portrait when he guest-edited the Observer.

The Charlie Phillips Archive Exhibition opened on Thursday 1st September.

Muswell Hill Gallery was launched last year (2021) by former CAS Arts Fine Arts graduate, Georgia Robinson, to provide a new space for up and coming artists to show their work. Its monthly exhibitions have attracted a wide range of art disciplines from fine art, watercolours, pastels, collages and soft sculptures with artists featured so far including Alan Braidwood, Sedici Art Group, Azubuike Ani, Maggie Learmonth, Neda Dana Haeri, Gillian Raine, Carol Tarn, Arty Bea, Colin Merrin, Anne McNeill-Pulati, Non Worrell and Gvenire.

As well as the monthly exhibitions, there is a permanent display of small prints and cards available to buy at sister company, Come Swap & Shop.

Phillips is somewhat ambivalent about his newfound recognition, however, especially when he is pigeonholed as Black culture, rather than just culture. “I feel sometimes I’m being used as political propaganda when they talk about multicultural Britain. I’m sorry, I don’t want to play the colour game. I’m tired of ticking the boxes, because they only call you in Black History Month to show images of Black people, and I’m fed up of it.”

In 2015, he received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to manage his archive. “This is the only thing that keeps me going. I’ve got lots of young volunteers who say: ‘Uncle Charlie, you’ve got to keep your legacy alive, because we don’t see this in schools. We don’t see this in exhibition centres.’ I think we’re not well-represented within the culture of England how we should be. There has been a missing section in our history. Most of our records have been destroyed or weren’t there in the first place … I’m just here to document our side of the story.”

“As far as I’m concerned, we haven’t been given a proper platform to show our culture, our side of the story,” he says. “It’s not Black history; this is British history, whether you like it or not. And we’ve been sidestepped. I feel that personally.”

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