Photographer Dennis Morris: ‘Suddenly we were black, not coloured’ – interview

Repeating Islands

Dennis Morris is celebrated for his iconic photographs of the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley. But few knew that in that pivotal era he was also documenting black British life in London… Sean O’Hagan, in an article for London’s Guardian, speaks to Morris about his new book, Growing Up Black.

I meet Dennis Morris on the steps of Hackney town hall in east London, and we set off up Mare Street, through a church yard that leads into a small park, and out on to Homerton High Street, where his old school, Upton House Comprehensive, has been transformed into City Academy. It was there, aged 16, that Morris told a careers adviser that he wanted to be a photographer.

“The guy just looked at me like I was mad,” he says. “Then he said: ‘Be realistic. There’s no such thing as a black photographer.’ Those were his words…

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Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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