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Dexter McLean: Portraits from Tower Avenue

Dexter McLean: Portraits from Tower Avenue

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A Royal Photographic Society (RPS) award-winning photographer, Dexter McLean, has his first solo exhibition at Orleans House in London.  

Dexter was awarded the RPS Hood Medal in 2021 for his documentary and photo work while advocating for the disabled population. The RPS Awards are the oldest and most distinguished photography awards globally.

Dexter McLean was born in Jamaica with cerebral palsy. After several futile attempts to get him to sit up, his mother realised something was wrong with his growth. Following this, he was diagnosed with the disorder when he was only a few months old.

The Early Years of Dexter McLean

His family struggled to raise a disabled child in Jamaica in the early 1990s, and likewise, they faced numerous problems. He attended a primary school that lacked specialisation and, therefore, the ability to handle a disabled student. In the absence of wheelchairs or crutches, Dexter walked on his hands and knees during his early years in Jamaica. Dexter and his family relocated to the United Kingdom when he was nine years old, where he attended a special school for disabled students.

His love of photography began at the age of 13 when his aunt bought him his first camera, and he became instantly “obsessed”

In 2020 Dexter received a distinction grade MA in Photography from Middlesex University. The previous year, he completed a BA in Photography.

Connecting the Subject and the Observer

His work is guided by the conviction that oppressed groups deserve to be heard, represented, and empowered compassionately. His photography, as a result, focuses on personality, aiming to create a connection and exchange between the subject and the observer. In this regard, he captures intimate moments between the subject and the photographer to reveal who that person is through their expression.

‘Kimmisha’ copyright © Photo credit: Dexter McLean

With “Tower Avenue,” his first self-published monograph, Dexter’s goal is to transform people’s opinions about Jamaica. “This is my way of giving something back to Jamaica,” he remarked in an interview with SW Londoner. ” When people typically think about Jamaica, they think of crime, but there’s much more to the country than that.”

Dexter McLean
‘Shamar’ copyright © Photo credit: Dexter McLean

Consequently, through portraiture photography, the “Tower Avenue” series highlights the people of Jamaica and their culture. The neighbourhood of Tower Avenue is a street in Olympic Gardens, Kingston, Jamaica. This Olympic Gardens community is where Dexter and his family are from. Through his camera lens, he represents it through his sensitive and natural portrayals. The subjects provide a unique look into the life of Jamaicans.

“Tower Avenue” will run from March 17th through June 12th, 2022. Entry to the exhibition is free.

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