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Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press

The people of Brent look incredible in these photos

Roy Mehta's thirty-year-old portraits deserve your time

By Joe Mackertich
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Good news: Hoxton Mini Press is releasing a photo book of Roy Mehta’s portraits of Brent’s local communities in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Sad news: said publishers were planning on launching a physical exhibition to promote the book but have obviously had to postpone it (until 2022, no less).

In lieu of said exhibition, the nice people at Hoxton have allowed us to exhibit a load of the images on our site. That’s right, you are now inside a virtual art gallery. Please behave with the appropriate amount of decorum.

Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press

Mehta’s portraits were taken between 1989 and 1993 and depict the north London borough in all its multi-cultural glory. They focus mainly on the area’s Afro-Caribbean and Irish population, showing people engaged in normal activities like shopping, going to church and exchanging general neighbourly banter. If forced at gun-point to describe the vibe we would go for: Heightened Mundane. It’s all very nice.

‘Mehta doesn’t shy away from the sadness and difficulties of this foundational story,’ says novelist and playwright Carilyn Phillips in the book's intro. ‘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.’

Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press

And doesn't that sound nice. ‘All will eventually be well’. Try just saying that to yourself as you scroll through the images. Works wonders.

Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press
Photograph: Roy Mehta/Hoxton Mini Press

Revival: London 1989-1993 by Roy Mehta is published by Hoxton Mini Press

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