Launch of ‘Rootical: An Audience with Charlie Phillips’

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On Sunday 29th April 2012, Black History Studies launched our first DVD titled ‘Rootical: An Audience with Charlie Phillips.’ This DVD was launched a year after its production back in 2011. This is the story of Charlie Phillips, a photographer who documented the social implications of immigration in the 1950s and 1960s in Notting Hill. Charlie has experienced much ignorance with regards to the importance of his work. The working class seems to be excluded from the art world. In discussion with Benjamin Zephaniah and the curator of the Museum of London, they get to the bottom of that issue. Rootical was the winner of the Portobello Film Festival for Best First Film (2006). The film features a discussion with Charlie Phillips and the film director Nike Hatzidimou about his life experiences and photography, a presentation of his work and a Q&A session with the audience.

Charlie Phillips is one of our biggest supporters of the work we do and he always gives us honest and constructive feedback. He is one of the many Jamaican people who have contributed to our story here in the UK. I was introduced to Charlie at an African Odyssey film event where I watched ‘Cuba: An African Odyssey.’ Since then we have remained friends and I have learnt about his life and experiences, which I wanted to share with the world. I don’t believe in waiting for people to die before we venerate people. Here are some facts about Charlie Phillips:

  • Charlie Phillips was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1944 and moved to London’s Notting Hill area aged 11.
  • He worked in his parent’s restaurant Las Palmas in Portobello Road, London.
  • When Charlie was eleven he was given a Kodak Brownie by an African American serviceman and started snapping his friends and family.
  • Charlie served as a Galley Boy in the Merchant Navy and has a keen interest in Marine Biology.
  • Charlie trained at catering college and did a five year apprenticeship at the RAC in London. He has worked all around the world as a chef.
  • Charlie had his first exhibition in Milan in 1972 where he showed photographs portraying the frustrations and difficulties of urban migrant workers.
  • Charlie earned his living in Rome as a photographer snapping celebrities such as Omar Sharif, Jimi Hendrix and Mohammed Ali.
  • Charlie was the first Black photographer to publish pictures in Italian Vogue in 1971.
  • In 1988, Charlie opened the award winning Smokey Joe’s Diner in Wandsworth High Street which received critical acclaim by locals and by the media, appearing in numerous guide books.
  • Some of his hobbies include music and travel.
  • Charlie is multilingual and can speak Italian, French and Swedish.

These are just a few facts about this remarkable man. He has an amazing collection of photographs that he would like to archive. Profits from the DVD sales will go towards ‘The Charlie Phillips Archive Fund’ to preserve his wonderful collection.

To purchase the DVD, please go to or you can pick up a copy at any of our events.

About blackhistorystudies

Black History Studies is a social enterprise company which operates in the interest of the community by offering courses and events in Adult Education. We aim to empower the African and Caribbean community and enable them to develop self knowledge and identity through Black History and Culture. Black History Studies aim to provide a wide range of courses and activities which will provide people with the opportunity to pursue their interest in Black History and Black Studies. We also aim to provide high quality courses and activities that can be accessed by all within the community. Our mission is to inform, inspire and empower people through Black History and Black Studies by educating the community to educate themselves thereby creating a self-sustaining learning circle. Black History Studies is dedicated to providing you with a high quality and professional service and can offer services such as: - Bespoke services for Secondary Schools - Black History and Black Studies Presentations - Black History Course for Families - 5 week short courses on Black History - Beginners and Advanced Black Studies Courses - Weekend courses on Black History and Black Studies - Museum Tours - Film Screenings - Black History Studies Presentations for hire
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