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Press Release: Pioneering Photography on Display in Ipswich for Black History Month

Press Release

For immediate release

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.

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.

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.”

Shevelle Dynott’s portrait from Black Britannia by John Ferguson

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.

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.

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.


Note to Editors

For media enquiries contact: Elma Glasgow at

Download images here (link expires on 5th October, please contact me if you need a new link):

See more of John’s work:

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About John Ferguson

John Ferguson is one of the UK’s most experienced, well-travelled and published photographers. He was a senior staff photographer at the Daily Mirror for 15 years and has spent the last decade working as a freelance photographic artist on commercial commissions, independent and collaborative exhibitions and humanitarian photographic feature stories.

John, who recently gained a Masters in Fine Arts at Suffolk University, has worked with renowned journalists and international NGOs to cover stories including the 2004 Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina to the conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

He has photographed hundreds of A-list celebrities but also felt that it was his privilege to be able to challenge social, economic and cultural inequality, poverty and injustice through this environmental photographic documentary practice.

The decisive moment that makes an image, one that tells a story within a single frame, or a series or collection of frames that leads the viewer into someone else's environment or situation, visual storytelling is what captivates John’s passion.

John says: "It was documentary genre of photography which really got me hooked, the ability to visually depict someone's story with my camera, for me is a beautiful never- ending challenge and skill and one which I think will never leave me. My life is seen through visual stories, everywhere I turn, I see images, either stand-alone or complete picture stories. Sounds a little like a curse, but not to me, its images of people, the human condition that intrigues me the most, either through candid photography, staged or through portraiture”.

John’s personal projects have seen his cover a diverse range of subjects around the world. From working with the Albino communities in the UK to going in search of the forgotten Black Cowboys of the 'Wild West’ America, his eclectic interests have served him well during his career.

He has now turned his attention to helping other creative practitioners, influencers, speakers and entrepreneurs by assisting in building their personal brand through incisive, engaging and contemporary photography. For many of us, our lives and occupations are very much open to increased examination and inspection, people want to be able to engage and trust with the people we choose to work and interact with. John’s aims are to deliver a unique and distinctive visual presentation for the individual 21st century business person.

Black Britannia exhibitions:

Black Britannia Exhibition was held at the London’s City Hall April 2008, opened by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Also exhibited at the Liverpool Slavery Museum, June 2009 to Dec 2009, and Sheffield Apex centre 2010. A selection of images from Black Britannia collection are permanently held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Awards include:

  • 2000 Kodak Press Awards - Best Feature Picture and Best Feature Story

  • 2006 One World Media Awards - Winner Nat.Press Award for 'Make Poverty History campaign' for Oxfam.

  • 2010 Worldwide Photo Gala awards - Portrait & People award for 'Living with Albinism' series.

  • Life framer - Faces of life Winner 2017

  • International Colour Awards USA - “Honour of Distinction” 2006. London Photographic Association “Let’s face it 3” Portraiture Awards - Silver 2006.

  • One World Media Awards 2006 - winner, National Press Award for the Make Poverty History Campaign. Rwanda Campaign

  • London Photographic Association “Let’s face it 4” Portraiture awards - Highly Commended.

  • AOP group portrait prize 2005 - finalist.

  • Px3 Subcategory Winner - Professional Photojournalism 2008, Paris.

  • Selected for National Portrait Gallery Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait prize exhibition, 2006.

  • FOTO8 winners group show exhibitor.

  • London Photographic Association “Let’s face it 5” Portraiture awards - Highly commended.

  • International Color Awards winner - Distinction

  • Lens Culture finalist - Living with Albinism

  • Selected for Portrait of Britain Photo Book, faces of a changing nation. British Journal of Photography

  • Kodak Press Awards - Best Feature Picture 1999.

  • Kodak Press Awards - Best Feature Picture 2000.

  • Kodak Press Awards - Best Feature Story 2000.

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