Search site .:

    Other records in archive collections throughout the North East

    The Collection

    The Gallery

Spotlight on...

Home>Spotlight on ...

Spotlight on ... illustrates the social history and heritage of cultural diversity across Britain.

It is our great pleasure to present the work of the critically acclaimed photographer, Vanley Burke.

Red Lion Bar - 1970 1979

Red Lion Bar - 1970 1979

At the bar in the Red Lion, Handsworth. The man with the bottle in his hand has the nickname Barleywine , because it is his favourite drink.


Boys on See-Saw - 1970 - 1979 (c.)

Boys on See Saw - 1970 - 1979 (c.)

There was so little to do for young people in Handsworth that it was common for youths to hang around in the play park.

Vanley Burke

Nineveh Road 1970 - 1979 (c.)

This photograph was taken with a zoom lens to highlight how the houses in Handsworth were squeezed together. This and the way that front doors just opened onto the street seemed very strange to newly arrived people from the Caribbean.


Vanley Burke

The Eternal Optimist 1970 - 1979 (c.)

Man studying the form at Ladbrokes on Soho Road

Vanley Burke - sound system

Wasiffa Sound System, Handsworth Park1970 - 1979 (c.)

Vanley Burke

Portrait of a Woman 1970 - 1979 (c.)

This is a photograph of Molly taken at the YWCA on Bristol Road.


Vanley Burke: Biography

Vanley Burke has been living and working in Birmingham since 1965. He started to record the community around him in the late 1960's and has continued this personal journey to the present day. Burkes images represent a sensitive portrayal of people from Britain, Europe and South Africa.

Vanley Burke's work has been published widely across the world, and featured heavily in The Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, and more. Burke has featured in over 60 major exhibitions across in Britain, Europe, America and South Africa.

He has used this visual medium to create a visual history of the African-Caribbean communities in and around the Midlands. Here he has captured that tension which is so hard to put into words, but which is understood by looking at this picture. The tension of the immigrant child of every generation spoke as loudly to me as if I were looking at reflection of my self as a boy. The young man, who could be standing in a park in Kingston, Jamaica, is marked by the stamp of nationality, the union flag that emblem of common identity that called families such as his like mine, out from their homelands in search of a better life.  This is Handsworth, but it could as easily be Tottenham, Brixton, or Peckham. It is the symbol of the hope of a generation.

David Lammy, MP Minister of Culture The Guardian


What matters is the photographers capacity to capture the truth the authenticity of experience, that is already there in the lives as it is being lived. However carefully the practice of documenting is conducted (and Vanley Burke is a highly skilled, highly professional, patient and experience practitioner) in the end what makes a memorable image in the documentary tradition is its fidelity to a reality, an experience, outside the means of representation , beyond the constructed photographic space of the recorded image.

Professor Stewart Hall


If you would like to exhibit in  Spotlight on... please contact us.