Rommi Smith: Changing The Story: Photographs Of British Life In Black And White (1917-1962)

Rommi Smith: Changing The Story: Photographs Of British Life In Black And White (1917-1962)

Mon 10 – Sat 29 Jan 2022

‘I open the album and am spellbound; immediately struck that what unites these temporally disparate photographs – these stories of people and places across time and space – is the racial diversity of the protagonists in them. These photos flip the script on Britishness: my history lessons did not look like this.’ Dr Rommi Smith

Changing The Story centres an overlooked part of British history, through a series of striking photographs documenting British life from 1917 to 1962.

As the inaugural writer-in-residence at leading photographic archive TopFoto, Dr Rommi Smith explored a lesser-known archive of photographic images and was struck by the diversity of the subjects in them; how the images disrupt ideas of Britishness as, solely, white. Thirty-four of these photographs are on public display together for the first time, alongside new writing by Rommi interpreting these works. As part of the exhibition, audio recordings of Rommi’s work are accessible via QR codes; with music by Christella Litras, the texts are performed by Rommi Smith, Christella Litras and actor Lladel Bryant.

Founded in 1927, TopFoto is an independent picture agency of fascinating range and depth, with its archive utilised in education, branding, marketing, advertising and the media globally.

To view/download a PDF version of the exhibition brochure click here.

To view a FlippingBook version of the exhibition brochure click here.

The Big Picture: Last Call For Commonwealth Arrivals, 1962

Tim Adams, The Observer, Sun 02 Jan 2022


‘Flipping The Script On Britishness’: Historical Harmony – In Pictures

The Guardian, Tue 04 Jan 2022


Inspiring People At The North Wall

Rommi Smith: Changing The Story

Thu 20 Jan 2022 | 7.30pm | £10/£5 Students

Join award-winning writer and performer Dr Rommi Smith in conversation with her collaborator, the musician and composer Christella Litras, chaired by Flora Nedelcu-Smith, Managing Partner of TopFoto. Rommi and Christella perform new work inspired by exhibition images, including one by photographer/filmmaker Ken Russell. This new work is made possible by Writers Mosaic, an initiative of the Royal Literary Fund.



TopFoto: the image works



Writers Mosaic (an initiative of the Royal Literary Fund)





125th & Midnight








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Rommi Smith: Changing The Story: Photographs Of British Life In Black And White (1917-1962)


Free Entry

Extra information

Exhibition open: Mon 10 – Sat 29 Jan 2022

The Gallery at The North Wall
The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7JN

Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 10am – 4pm, Sat: 12pm – 4pm
Closed: Sun and Bank Holidays

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