Sunday, October 1, 2023

‘Miss Black and Beautiful’ Exhibition Reveals Rare Pageant Photography from ’60s to ’80s

Next month, London will play host to the first major exhibition of photography by the late Raphael Albert – a talent who shot black beauty pageants throughout the ’60s and into the 1980s – with the opening of the Raphael Albert: Miss Black and Beautiful exhibition.

Alongside working as a promoter and photographer, the Grenada-born Mr Albert founded the Miss Black and Beautiful, Miss West Indies in Great Britain, and Miss Grenada pageants, and went on to found a magazine called Charisma in 1984, as well as an associated modelling school.


Now, 7 years after the photographer’s passing in 2009, an exhibition of his work, focused specifically on his pageant photography, will be displayed in London’s Rivington Place gallery, curated by Renée Mussai.



The pageants were created to tackle the mainstream fashion and lifestyle industries’ lack of diversity, and promote black femininity – taking the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement from the ’70s and highlighting it in a “local context.”

The images that will be on display at the exhibition showcase how the traditional elements of pageantry were styled in celebration of black femininity, with Afro ‘dos and ethnic styling on stage at the events.


The curator, Ms Mussai – who worked with the photographer’s daughters, Vikkie Albert and Susan Ibuanokpe to choose images for the exhibition – explained;

“Raphael Albert’s photographs embody an aura of hedonistic confidence in a new generation of black women coming of age in Britain during the 1970s, fuelled by complex [body] politics of national identity, difference and desire.”


Free to enter and running between July 8th and the 24th of September 2016, the “Miss Black and Beautiful” exhibition is on Team SPICE’s radar – and anyone wanting to see what black beauty looked like throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s should visit and find out through Raphael Albert’s lens.

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