Hosted at the gallery until December 2016, each portrait presents the viewer with an individual of African and Asian heritage. The accompanying details define their connection to the British empire, and experiences associated with their lives in 19th and early-20th century Britain.
The gallery is free to visit and highlights the complexity of Britain’s imperial history and importantly the significant black presence in Britain predating 1948. At this time, the first large groups of Caribbean immigrants started to arrive on British shores.
As a black female and a natural born citizen of Britain, I was intrigued to view the portraits and learn more about this period of history. I have rarely felt that my own heritage is represented when visiting such galleries.
Research is ongoing and new information continues to emerge, but I applaud Autograph ABP for their efforts with bringing this display to the public. With time, I would hope that such works of art could form part of the mainstream representation of race and cultural identity.
Black Chronicles will be on display until 11th December 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery, free of charge.