The National Portrait Gallery acquires its largest group of Afro-Caribbean sitters

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The National Portrait Gallery in London has acquired thirty-seven portraits of black Britons chosen for their achievements in politics, business, culture, religion and science. The acquisition represents an addition and update to Donald McLellan’s Black Power series, displayed and acquired by the Gallery in 1998. This portfolio includes some sitters not already represented in the Collection including journalist Gary Younge and singer Alesha Dixon.

These remarkable talents were shot by Simon Frederick for a BBC TWO documentary Black is the New Black. Shown in 2016 the sitters disclosed heartfelt stories and opinions to paint a unique portrait of modern Britain’s past, present and future. With the support of OATH, Simon Frederick has offered the entire portfolio of thirty-nine prints as a gift to the National Portrait Gallery.

These include model Naomi Campbell, newsreader and journalist Sir Trevor McDonald, actress Thandie Newton, musicians Jazzie B of Soul II Soul, and recently appointed Editor in Chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful.

Artist and director Simon Frederick constructed still portrait photographs as well as filming the participants for Black is the New Black, a four-part documentary in which Frederick employed the power of talking heads with no archive footage or voiceovers.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘These striking portraits of black British sitters powerfully reflect the diversity and variety of contemporary British achievement in public life. The National Portrait Gallery is delighted to receive Simon Frederick’s very generous gift of photographs.’

Dr Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Photographing with sensitivity and insight, Simon Frederick has made extraordinary portraits of some of the most influential Britons of our time. We are proud to welcome these works into our collection, where they will be seen, enjoyed, and celebrated for generations to come.’