Black Lives Matter photographer becomes Southbank Centre chair

A former City headhunter turned photographer who took one of the defining pictures from last year’s Black Lives Matter protests in London has been appointed chair of Britain’s largest arts centre.

Misan Harriman is to succeed Susan Gilchrist as chair of trustees at the Southbank Centre, it was announced on Thursday.

Nel mese di giugno, Harriman photographed 18-year-old protester Darcy Bourne with a banner which simply asked: “Why is ending racism a debate?"

The image went viral after being shared by figures including the Vogue editor, Edward Enninful, the athlete Dina Asher-Smith, the racing car driver Lewis Hamilton, and Martin Luther King III.

Enninful described Harriman as the “voice that was missing” and commissioned him to be the first black man to shoot the cover of British Vogue, taking portrait photographs of activists including the footballer Marcus Rashford and the model and mental health campaigner Adwoa Aboah.

Harriman approached Sotheby’s about selling the first print of the Darcy Bourne image to raise money for the Anthony Nolan blood cancer charity. It sold for £10,000, more than double the estimate.

His stratospheric rise as a photographer was all the more remarkable in that he only took up photography about four years ago. His wife gave him a camera as a present for his 39th birthday and he taught himself using YouTube videos.

It was something of a calling, he told the Guardian. At school “when most boys were talking about football I was talking about the lighting in [the Stanley Kubrick film] Barry Lyndon”, Egli ha detto.

Harriman previously worked in the City as a headhunter. He subsequently founded a media content, tech and commerce company called What We See.

He said he was hugely excited to be taking up the new post. “I believe the incredible mix of art voices that Southbank Centre offers has never been more important, and has huge potential as we develop a modern, post-lockdown cultural institution and explore new ways to innovate and bring arts to our communities," Egli ha detto.

Luke Mayhew, a former managing director of John Lewis’s department stores, has been appointed deputy chair.

The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, has approved Harriman’s appointment following the recommendation of the centre’s board and after consultation with Arts Council England (ACE).

Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of ACE, said Harriman was joining the centre at a time of national recovery when access to the arts was vital. “His proven commitment to innovation and to the diverse voices of the UK will be especially valuable to an iconic institution which was conceived as a beacon for culture of all kinds as the nation emerged from the trauma of world war.”

The Southbank Centre is recovering after a devastating year which saw losses of £25m and a redundancy programme which resulted in it losing 50% of its staff. It survives thanks to a £10.9m loan from the government’s cultural recovery fund.

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