Neil Kenlock - Photography

Powerful and intimate, reflections of the forces that have shaped the lives of Britain’s black communities since the war are now portrayed in Neil Kenlock’s photographic Collection.  There are thousands of images in the works of pioneering Jamaican-born British photographers, Neil Kenlock.  With subjects ranging from images of iconic figures like Bob Marley and Muhammad Ali, Black Panther marches, street protests, club culture and the early Carnival to beauty, fashion, and street scenes, the photographs capture the events and attitudes of the times and trace the journey of London’s black communities from open hostility and uneasy assimilation to empowerment and recognition as key creative and commercial forces in British life.


Neil Kenlock was living in London by the 60s, so were witness to over four decades of tremendous change.   These are photographs taken as an insider who were active in his communities and part of all that was going on. His photographers gives the viewer a sense of being there, watching events unfold.


Official photographer to the British Black Panther movement, Neil Kenlock’s work documents the rallies, racism and upheaval during the 1970s and early 1980s in London. Alongside the big picture of marches, protests and portraits of prominent campaigners there are images focusing on telling detail – a 1972 front door daubed with the slogan ‘KEEP BRITAIN WHITE’, or his 1970 close-up of four schoolgirls carrying shoulder bags embroidered with Black Panther badges. These subjects contrast with his portrait and glamour studio photography and images instrumental and essential in founding the first British black press – West Indian World, Root magazine and Jamaican Weekly Gleaner. These publications were founded to establish a voice for the black communities to express their ideas and views. As well as being co-founder and picture editor for Root magazine, Neil also captured the massive impact of black artists on the British music scene with rare images of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.


He also photograph many survivors of those who came to Britain on the ‘Empire Windrush’ in 1948, They provided a counterpoint to racism and challenged the negative images, which still held currency in some quarters.


Neil Kenlock and two other photographers exhibited at the Museum of London, Mike Seaborne, curator of photographs at the Museum of London says, “Roots to Reckoning helps us to better understand the story of London’s black communities and to appreciate the huge artistic and cultural impact they have had on all our lives. Neil Kenlock, are a significant photographers whose work documents a key chapter in London’s post-war life.’