An exhibition of photographs by Michael Mayhew and a new artwork by Cherelle Sappleton in the Lyttelton Lounge at the National Theatre 23 February – 10 June.
The photographs from the National Theatre Archive’s Michael Mayhew Collection is a rare snapshot of the work developed by black theatre practitioners between 1979 and 1982. Michael Mayhew was the NT’s Art Director (from 1976 – 2009) when he was first asked by Charlie Hanson to take publicity photographs of the newly established Black Theatre Co-operative. In the 1970s and 80s there was an explosion of new black-led theatre companies in the UK, primarily focused on London. Mayhew went on to shoot more images of theatre productions and rehearsals with Foco Novo and Temba Theatre, leaving a legacy of over 1000 newly digitized photographs at the NT archive.
To respond to this archive collection, the NT has commissioned Cherelle Sappleton, a young British/Caribbean visual artist whose work focuses on photography, moving image and collage. For Sappleton, Mayhew’s images provide the opportunity to pause and consider the politics of ‘making’ and the spaces in which creative work can be made.