the ghanaian photographer who captured the swinging 60s in africa and beyond

James Barnor’s portraits of Ghana in transition are a highlight of Canada’s Contact Photography Festival.

by Emily Manning
16 May 2016, 5:40pm

James Barnor, Eva, London, 1960s. Courtesy Autograph ABP

Though Londoners are preparing for the launch of Photo London later this week, Toronto residents have been enjoying exciting exhibitions and installations all month long during the city's annual Contact Photography Festival. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Contact brings some seriously diverse works to Canada's creative capital -- from masters like Cindy Sherman and William Eggleston to old yearbook photos. One unmissable Contact show presently on view at BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre celebrates Ghanaian photographer James Barnor and the portraits of Africa's eclectic youth he created during the 60s.

James Barnor, Ginger Nyarku, featherweight boxer with Coronation Belt, Accra, 1953. Courtesy Autograph ABP

In the early 50s, Barnor established Ever Young, a portrait studio in Jamestown, Accra on Ghana's southern coast. As his practice grew in popularity, Barnor's subjects began to represent a wider spectrum of society: from stylish students to dignitaries like Ghana's future first prime minister Kwame Nkrumah, boxer Ginger Nyarku, even future US President Richard Nixon, when he attended Ghana's Independence ceremony in 1957.

James Barnor, Drum cover girl Marie Hallowi, Rochester, Kent, 1966. Courtesy Autograph ABP

After freelancing for magazines like the anti-apartheid cultural journal Drum, and newspapers like the Daily Mirror Group's local Ghanaian outlet the Daily Graphic, Barnor began studying and working in the United Kingdom. "Through the medium of portraiture, Barnor's photographs represent societies in transition: Ghana moving toward independence from colonial rule, and London becoming a cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolis during the 1960s," the exhibition's release notes.

James Barnor, Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus, London, 1967. Courtesy Autograph ABP

Though the show collects over 80 works ranging throughout Barnor's six-decade-spanning career, it's these early images capturing the African diaspora in the swinging 60s that make James Barnor: Ever Young truly worth the visit.

'James Barnor: Ever Young' runs at BAND Gallery and Cultural Center until May 29. 


Text Emily Manning
Images courtesy Autograph ABP

James Barnor
Contact Photography Festival
james barnor: ever young