The example of friendship


James Barnor and Erlin Ibrek reminisce

In addition to pictures of her younger self at the recent opening of the James Barnor Restropective at the Serpentine Gallery, former cover girl Erlin Ibrek is delighted with her first meeting with the veteran Ghanaian photographer more than 50 years ago.

“It was 1966 and we were both standing in a bus queue at Victoria Station when I saw her,” recalled James, 92.

“I worked as a fashion photographer for Drum and asked her if she would like to model.”

Erlin, originally from Uganda, has been a regular in drum, a progressive lifestyle magazine based in South Africa, and was therefore signed by the model agency Lucy Clayton.

After moving to New York, she lost all contact with her former mentor until one day in 2010 she came across a newspaper article about him that contained one of his pictures of her.

“I tried to get in touch with him straight away, and we met later in New York when he was at an exhibition at the Schomburg Center and another time in London,” she said afterwards.

Erlin flew in to take part in the Serpentine Show, the largest survey of his over 60-year career, which included studio portraits, fashion photography and photojournalism.

“It’s really exciting to be here. James is a remarkable person and I am so grateful to have met and worked with him, ”she added.

James Barnor: Accra / London – A Retrospective, the Serpentine North Gallery, until October 24th

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