Raphael Albert was a cultural promoter, entrepreneur and photographer based in Hammersmith. Born on the Caribbean Island of Grenada in 1935, Albert moved to London in 1953, where he studied photography at Ealing Technical College while working part time at Lyons Cake factory. He soon became a freelance photographer, providing images to Black British Newspapers. One of his first assignments, with West Indian World, was documenting the Miss Jamaica contest. In 1970 he established the Miss Black and Beautiful contest, followed by Miss West Indies in Great Britain, Miss Teenager of the West Indies in Great Britain and Miss Grenada.
For more than three decades, Albert documented and organised numerous Black British beauty pageants and other cultural events, alongside creating a portfolio of aspiring models in his home studio. These competitions celebrated the 1970’s ‘Black is Beautiful’ aesthetic in a West London context. Though bathing suites and high heels were part of the way contestants presented themselves, they also subverted the conventions of these competitions.
Albert’s pageants created a space for self fashioning for black women who were largely absent, or at best marginal, in mainstream fashion and lifestyle platforms. Contestants in his pageants would often sport large afros and displaying a multifaceted black femininity and challenging beauty norms of the time. The photographs serve as a testament to this profound moment of self articulation and collective celebration in London’s pan Afro- Caribbean communities and beyond.
A carefully curated selection of prints from the series Black Beauty Pageants as well as from his community photographs are available for purchase. The collectors’ prints are uneditioned and are available as archival silver gelatin fibre prints. They are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. The following print sizes are available:
12 x 16 inch (Image size 11 inch)
20 x 24 inch (Image size 19 inch)
Prices are available upon request. Please note that all prices are exclusive of VAT, framing and packaging and posting.