It’s a great story. A fourteen year old black kid sitting with his camera outside London’s Speakeasy Club in 1973 waiting for one of his musical heroes to turn up. Dennis had bunked off school and was determined to photograph Bob Marley – the camera was his passion. He knew that a career in photography lay ahead. Hell, it was all he wanted to do.
Dennis tells it : “My careers officer asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to be a photographer, “Don’t be silly”, he replied, there’s no such thing as a black photographer.” “Oh yes, there is” I answered, “Don’t you know the work of Gordon Parks?”
“So I met with Bob. I was waiting with my camera outside the Speakeasy.He was in England for his first tour of Babylon. He arrived with the Wailers. “Can I take a picture?”, I asked, “Yeah Man”, he replied, “Come in!”. On that first meeting, my life was to change. “Do you know who Gordon Parks is?”, I asked. “Do you know who Marcus Garvey is?”, he asked. He told me “Don’t let them tell you you can’t do anything Dennis, you can be anything you want”.For me I know that meeting in 1973 was vital, he gave me confidence, he gave me hope, he gave me identity, he made my dream possible. “
That same day, Bob asked Dennis to go on tour with them. He packed a bag and disappeared. He rang his mum from Brighton and told her he was with Bob Marley. She said “ Yeah yeah, you wait til you come home, your backside it a gwan buuurn!”
Dennis has exhibited his work all around the world – Sydney Opera House, Laforet Museum in Tokyo, and galleries in London, New York,Paris, San Fransisco and Stutggart to name a few. Well now Birmingham is going to be added to the list.
Dennis’ Bob Marley photographs in the exhibition are all very large format – 30 x 40 inches – a spectacular size. The show combines regular photographs with two other presentational techniques – photo-collages and multi image pieces, both very different visually, but with a common theme of combining a number of images together together behind a single frame.