The New British: Photographic Portraits of London Migrants

Be part of something big: Chris Steele-Perkins, world famous photographer part of the Magnum Collective is looking to make photographic portraits of migrant families living in London as to record the fast changing idea of what is British. Here is more about the project and how to participate as a migrant!

New British
Adebimpe Ogunmokun, (mother) with her sons Joe Arojojoye (left) and Michael Ashaplu. From Nigeria. Credits: Chris Steele-Perkins.

Chris Steele-Perkins, the famous photographer part of the Magnum collective with work in the collection of the Tate, the V&A and the National Portrait Gallery and author of over 10 books, is back with a new project on his favourite topic: the British Identity; and is now actively looking for applicants.

The photographic portraits Chris intents to take in the next weeks are family portraits (whatever family means to someone) within the migrant’s home in London. Contacted on the phone to speak about the project, Chris said that the photos need to be taken in the house, to enforce the idea of “residency”.

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Family of Shamshad Jafferji Cockcroft, who is from Tanzania with her husband Laurence. At front son Joshua, far left Joshua’s girlfriend Hariette Clarke. Centre back, daughter Jasmine with her baby Elaina. Jasmine’s husband is standing, Roland Heap. Credits: Chris Steele-Perkins.

Migrants are often portrayed in the media as ‘mobile’, ‘taking resources away’ from locals and not really here to stay and contribute. By taking pictures in the house, Chris highlights the fact that most migrants are actually investing here to stay, that they make a contribution to their new local area and that they do take part as such in the unique identity of London. The latest statistics confirm that idea: 37% of Central London residents were born outside the UK.

Interestingly, the title of the project was initially the New Londoners; and in fact, most migrants to the UK resides in London. However, Chris changed his mind to the title “the New British”, because as he explains it, if London is not representative of the all UK, it is influencing the notion of British Identity and likely to impact other regional cities on the long term.

“The most significant change taking place in Britain right now is immigration. It represents a seismic shift in what it means to be British. I plan to record this change: to leave a record behind of this phenomena at the start of the 21st century”

New British - Mark Power
Ziggi Golding and her daughters Savannah (blonde), Nuala Ferrington and her daughter Kione. Ziggi is from Jamaica. Credits: Chris Steele-Perkins.

Cris is looking to photograph people living in London who are from another country in the world – that’s around 200 states recognised by the UN, and a few more besides, like Kurdistan.

Are you or your parents not originally from the UK, but now you live here? Great, you might be interested and qualify for the project! Reach out to Chris at chrissteeleperkins@hotmail.com, or Chloe at hello@chloerosser.co.uk or Izabella at izabella_fagan@yahoo.co.uk and tell them a little bit about yourselves. They will get back to you and arrange an appointment, simple as that.

If you want to check Chris out further his website is chrissteeleperkins.com.

What’s in it for you? Be part of something big and exciting. Be part of London. Be in a book. Be in an exhibition. And, get a free signed print of your family photograph. Enjoy the experience. Be proud of who you are. It costs you nothing. 🙂 

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