Brighton Dome - Wembley to Soweto - photo by Thapelo Motsumi

Brighton’s Black History Month launches at Brighton Dome

A photographic journey arrives at Brighton Dome in celebration of Black History Month

Brighton Dome are proud to present John Cole and David Westhead’s extraordinary photography exhibition Wembley To Soweto – A Photographic Journey as part of Brighton’s Black History Month. It’s now open until 9 Nov and it’s free! (Opening times vary - please check in advance)

A collection of over 50 images shot by disadvantaged teenagers from the Johannesburg townships, the project has become a global initiative that provides professional photographic training and life-skills to disadvantaged youngsters in order for them to move their own lives forward and ultimately make a positive contribution to the society in which they live.

The story behind Wembley To Soweto begins in 1988, when more than 80,000 people attended a concert at Wembley Stadium to celebrate the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela (600 million more tuned in on TV and radio). An iconic photograph of that momentous day taken by the internationally-renowned photographer John Cole now hangs on the wall in Mr Mandela’s home.

Over twenty years later, in 2010, David Westhead of Wilton Pictures invited John to run a four-week intensive photography course in Johannesburg. Run in conjunction with Umuzi Photo Club, it afforded an opportunity for eight teenagers from the townships to work alongside one of the world’s best photographers. This course was not solely about taking striking images: it was about how to feed your family using a camera as the tool of your trade. Wembley to Soweto – A Photographic Journey collects the pictures they took and offers an insight into daily South African life as the country prepared for and experienced the 2010 World Cup.

Involvement with the project has helped empower the young people to fulfill their hopes and dreams. Participants have been awarded full scholarships and bursaries to photographic colleges; had work published in magazines including Marie-Claire; have completed shoots for Vodacom and the South African Parliament; and had images exhibited in top galleries in New York, Antwerp and Johannesburg. Furthermore, Wembley to Soweto images are on permanent display on the BBC and Guardian websites.