Episode 181

Pictures Worth Thousands of Words with James Barnor Part 3


July 4th, 2023

19 mins 29 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode

Summer Solstice Greetings Glocal Citizens!

I’m fresh off of a couple of weeks of ramping up the summer in Europe where the sun was truly a superstar right alongside my guest for the next few episodes. James Barnor is a Ghanaian photographer who has been based in London since the 1990s. His career spans six decades, and although for much of that period his work was not widely known, it has latterly been discovered by new audiences. In his street and studio photography, Barnor represents societies in transition in the 1950s and 1960s: Ghana moving toward independence, and London becoming a multicultural metropolis. He has said: "I was lucky to be alive when things were happening...when Ghana was going to be independent and Ghana became independent, and when I came to England the Beatles were around. Things were happening in the 60s, so I call myself Lucky Jim." He was Ghana's first full-time newspaper photographer in the 1950s, and he is credited with introducing color processing to Ghana in the 1970s. It has been said: "James Barnor is to Ghana and photojournalism what Ousmane Sembène was to Senegal and African cinema."

Barnor has spoken of how his work was rediscovered in 2007 during the "Ghana at 50" jubilee season by curator Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, who organized the first exhibition of his photographs at Black Cultural Archives (BCA). Appreciation of his work as a studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer has been further heightened since 2010 when a major solo retrospective exhibition of his photographs, Ever Young: James Barnor, was mounted at Rivington Place, London, followed by a series of exhibitions including in the United States and South Africa. His photographs were collated by the non-profit agency Autograph ABP during a four-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and in 2011 became part of the new Archive and Research Centre for Culturally Diverse Photography.

Barnor's photographs have also in recent years had showings in Ghana, South Africa, France - (Paris Photo 2011, Galerie Baudoin Lebon; Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière), The Netherlands, the UK and the US. The first monograph of his work, entitled James Barnor: Ever Young, was published in 2015, including an extensive conversation between Barnor and Margaret Busby with Francis Hodgson.

I’m honored to be able to share his story--the history, the craft, the artistry and the humor of Uncle Jim.

Where to find James?
On LinkedIn
On Instagram
On Facebook
In the New York Times

What’s Uncle Jim watching?
America’s Got Talent
Britain’s Got Talent

Other topics of interest:
About Two Coronations
Accra earthquake 1939
A brief history of housing in Ghana
1942 Shipwreck
What is Akpeteshie?
On Kodak’s Baby Brownie Camera
Other Kodak cameras
Ghana’s Daily Graphic
Letterpress vs the Next-generation Press
Ghana's Prized Boxer Roy Ankrah
About British Accra and the Seaview Hotel
Krobo Edusei
World University Service - Canada
Drum Magazine
Achimota School
Medway College of Arts - Kent
Oko Kolamashie