Trevor Phillips once said to me – only half joking – that newspapers should have identity correspondents, just as they have economics or environment correspondents. Certainly there appears to be an inexhaustible appetite on the part of media outlets for stories that focus on social divisions, real or imagined. Usually these are framed as moral parables featuring virtuous victims, usually female, ethnic minority or gay, and contemptible wrong-doers who are male, white or straight. Sometimes the perpetrator is institutional – often, as with the Windrush generation controversy, the British state itself.
Over a number of years, the artist, Franklyn Rodgers, photographed his mother Loretta and her close circle of friends, building up an extraordinary series of large-scale portraits. The size and grandiosity of the works combine with a remarkable intimacy, achieved by the artist’s close relationships with these women.