Roy Mehta: Revival, London 1989 – 1993. In conversation with Sarah Bradshaw

Brent’s rich history of multiculturalism captured in exquisite photographs

Brent has a rich history of multiculturalism. Roy Mehta’s exquisite black and white photographs capture the daily rituals of its various communities, most notably the Afro-Caribbean and Irish, engaged in seemingly simple activities at home, in the street and at church. Shot between 1989 and 1993, the images move from profound moments of faith to quiet family settings to the noisy streets outside, reminding us of the continual opportunities for connection and reflection in everyday life.

“Mehta doesn’t shy away from the sadness and difficulties of this foundational story, but his multiracial faces – taken in Brent, northwest London – remain  coloured with British dreams, and they exude a vitality which suggests that, although things are never going  to be easy, all will eventually be well.”

Caryl Phillips

Roy Mehta

Since he became a photographer, Mehta’s work has regularly engaged in different ways with cultural identity, through images presented in ‘Revival, London 1989-1993’ and his other books and projects such as ‘Distant Relations’ and ‘Coastline’.

He is drawn to seeing how photography can offer us an opportunity to reflect on our common histories and celebrate our respective identities.  His work explores how different cultures and identities touch, engage and interweave.

As part of this process he has recently been making new work in Mumbai, exploring a city that he could have grown up in had his family not moved to the UK. This new work explores second-generation immigration and the resulting cross-cultural fluidity. In a similar way his work also explores what we consider to be ‘nature’, as in his recent series ‘Lockdown’ where he uses image and text to interpret the current Pandemic.

His work is in the permanent collections of Autograph, Historic England, The Library of Birmingham, The Harris Museum and Art Gallery and IKS Collection, Germany. His archive is available through LANG.

Sarah Bradshaw

Sarah Bradshaw is a news training manager for the BBC Academy.  She has travelled extensively working as a reporter and producer for the BBC World Service.  She has also worked as a writer and director for radio drama and as a presenter.