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The Vanley Burke Archive

Vanley Burke Archive

Vanley, originally from Jamaica arrived in Birmingham as a young boy in 1965, with a camera which had been given to him by his grandmother. He spent the next 30 years documenting the African Caribbean communities around him. Although much of his work is centred on the Handsworth area, Vanley has also worked in many other towns and cities and overseas, most importantly in South Africa during the struggles against apartheid.

Vanley is driven by a desire to reclaim and re-establish the cultural presence for African Caribbean communities; a desire which has prompted him to collect and preserve all sorts of documentary and ephemeral material, from street bill hoardings and posters to Caribbean menus and advertisements. He has also played a formative role in the work of many local and national groups including The West Midlands Ethnic Minority Arts Service, Handsworth Cultural Project and the work of these organisations is reflected in the collection.

Vanley's reason for accumulating his collection is best summed up in his own words:

"The photographs are very much a part of a documentation process which we as black people need to go through, and it is not an attempt to show the black community to the wider community, this is where we are, it is more importantly a record!"

e-mail archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk

See more photographs by Vanley Burke on the Connecting Histories website and Digital Handsworth website.

Vanley Burke
Vanley Burke: Handsworth from the inside
Photographs of South Africa from the Vanley Burke Collection
Central Library Photographic Collections