In 2022 Charlie Phillips and Eddie Otchere, two of Britain’s leading photographers were commissioned by the University of Sussex to photograph Black alumni as the starting point for Black@Sussex, a five-year project critically reflecting upon student and staff diversity. So far, they have photographed the novelist Diana Evans, the academic Paul Gilroy, the theatre director Lynette Linton and the artists Topher Campbell and Michael McMillan.

Through contact sheets and interview material this exhibition tells us about the process behind these initial portraits. It explores how their practice is grounded upon a specific type of first contact; one based upon consent and agency which explains why these images capture their sitters in a particular light. The portraits convey joyful belonging. We see them at ease with themselves and the places they have chosen to be photographed in.

FIRST CONTACT is co-curated by Eddie Otchere, Jenni Lewin-Turner, Martin Evans & Karina H Maynard

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