Photographer who captured Coventry's first Asian immigrants gets national recognition - The Stratford Observer
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8th Aug, 2022

Photographer who captured Coventry's first Asian immigrants gets national recognition

Felix Nobes 9th Dec, 2017 Updated: 9th Dec, 2017

A PHOTOGRAPHER whose portraits captured Coventry’s first immigrants from Asia is getting national recognition after the launch of his first book – at the age of 95.

It showcases the work of Maganbhai Patel, better known as Masterji.

And it has attracted national media attention, after his work featured in exhibitions in Coventry Cathedral, New York and Mumbai in India.

Local company Photo Miners uncovered works from his studio in Coventry, and has been instrumental in the publication of the book and the exhibitions.

Negatives have been digitalised and present an important archive encapsulating the lives and loves of those who made Coventry their home.

The book, titled simply Masterji, includes a collection of 66 images taken during his long career.

It was launched at St Mary’s Guildhall in Coventry.

Masterji’s book comes a year after the successful ‘Masterji & Coventry’ exhibition in The Box at Fargo Village in the city last year.

His Mumbai and New York exhibitions followed.

The nonagenarian has been photographing South Asian immigrants in the city since the 1950s.

His daughter Tarla Patel assisted Masterji with the writing process and it includes an introduction by cultural historian Dr Mark Sealy, which highlights the importance of the photographs which mark a transitional moment in both British and Indian history.

There was a collection of his photos, taken in his studio on Stoney Stanton Road, that were unknown to most before the exhibition.

Tarla said: “Masterji gives a voice to those forgotten in the past, at a time when people were facing adversity in jobs, education and housing because of their colour.

“This book shows proud people, determined and confident in who they are.”

Laura McMillan, manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, added: “Masterji’s photographic collection tells a wonderful story of the lives of people in Coventry and it’s only right that the images be preserved in a book.

“His work gives a real insight into the city’s history and, after last year’s incredible exhibition, this is a lasting way to celebrated his work.”

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