Graves Gallery at Museums Sheffield opens an exhibition of works by photographer and writer, Johny Pitts

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Graves Gallery at Museums Sheffield opens an exhibition of works by photographer and writer, Johny Pitts
Home Is Not a Place © Johny Pitts.

SHEFFIELD.- What is Black Britain?

In 2021, photographer and writer, Johny Pitts, and poet Roger Robinson circumnavigated the British Coast in search of an answer. The resulting project, Home is Not a Place, presented as an exhibition supported by Photoworks, and book published by Harper Collins, reflects on Black British culture, people and geographies, exploring the notion of home.

‘My photographic practice involves trying to celebrate Black spaces, capture them while they’re still here and give them a home. If not in a literal sense in a figurative sense, for me home is somewhere that you take with you.’ – Johny Pitts

Travelling in a red mini cooper along the Thames and then from Margate to Land’s End, Bristol to Blackpool, Glasgow to John O’Groats and Scarborough to Southend on Sea, Pitts and Robinson’s circumnavigation encompassed the coastal, urban, rural and suburban, via the places in-between, following the coast clockwise. They set out to document and respond to the many manifestations of Black British culture, and to present an alternative to the official and media narratives.

A self-taught photographer, working in the tradition of British documentary photography, Pitts was supported by the inaugural Ampersand/Photoworks Fellowship working closely with the Photoworks team for twelve months to allow him to develop this new series. The Fellowship aims to provide a transformative opportunity and support for a mid-career artist to complete a new body of work, with a touring exhibition. Pitts has built upon his ‘Afropean Archive’ of over 100,000 images documenting the Black experience in Europe. His images which form Home is Not a Place reflect upon the complexity and resilience of Black Britishness at this particular point of time.

Home is not a Place will take the form of a touring exhibition, starting in Pitts’ hometown of Sheffield and also a new book, published by Harper Collins in September 2022 which will combine photographs with poems by the T.S. Eliot Prize awardee Roger Robinson.

Johny Pitts is the curator of the ENAR (European NetworkAgainst Racism) award-winning online journal and the author of Afropean: Notes From Black Europe (Penguin Random House) which won the 2020 Jhalak Prize], the 2020 Bread & Roses Award for Radical Publishing, and is the recipient of the 2021 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding. He currently presents Open Book for BBC Radio 4 and a forthcoming Afropean podcast funded by a grant from the National Geographic Society. Pitts has contributed words and images for The Guardian, The New Statesman, The New York Times, and Condé Nast Traveller. His first solo exhibition Afropean: Travels in Black Europe was exhibited at Foam, Amsterdam in 2020.

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