Serpentine North Gallery 20 Aug 2021 7:30 pm Price: £8 BSL Interpreted
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Join us for a conversation on evolving representations of West African, Caribbean and African Diasporic communities through ground-breaking Black lifestyle magazines, DRUM & Flamingo.

This dynamic discussion will feature photographer James Barnor, whose images often graced the covers of DRUM magazine, broadcaster and presenter June Sarpong and author and journalist Stephen Dorril. Moderated by Bianca A. Manu.

The popularity of social media has expanded African, Caribbean and Diasporic narratives over the last decade, democratising and demolishing dangerous notions of a monolithic history. DRUM and Flamingo’s pioneering work in print and broadcast media redefined representations of Black life. Our speakers will discuss the mechanisms and controversies that created the space for new depictions of Black life in print media from the 1950s to today.

This programme accompanies the exhibition James Barnor: Accra/London – A Retrospective.


Flamingo was a ground-breaking magazine mixing glamour, culture and international politics. It was one of the first magazines to target Britain’s African-Caribbean community and was published from September 1961 until May 1965. Flamingo’ s founder, Peter Hornsby, was an MI6 agent who used the magazine to push an anti-communist agenda among African and West Indian communities. The magazine published dedicated editions in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia.

DRUM was a pioneer in Black journalism. Combining investigative and in-depth photojournalism, it captured a time of optimism, conflict, creativity and hope. Originating in South Africa, and described as “the first black lifestyle magazine in Africa”, it is noted for its early 1950s and 1960s reportage of township life under apartheid. Iconic for its cast of black journalists, DRUM shaped the careers of some of Africa’s most respected writers.

James Barnor is a respected studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer with a career spanning six decades and records of major social and political changes in England and Ghana. His work was commonly featured on the cover of DRUM.

June Sarpong OBE is a TV Presenter, Diversity Expert & Award-Winning Author.

Stephen Dorril is a British academic, author, and journalist. He is a former senior lecturer in the journalism department of Huddersfield University. He has written several books, mostly about the UK’s intelligence services.

Bianca A. Manu is a Ghanaian British curator, producer and writer invested in art and photography. In 2019, she curated the first ever retrospective of James Barnor in Africa at Nubuke Foundation, Accra. Manu is the guest curator for accompanying public programmes for James Barnor: Accra/London – A Retrospective at Serpentine.


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