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Tribute to a Photographer-Masterji


The Coventry City of Culture Trust has paid tribute to a photographer – affectionately known as Masterji – who passed away at the weekend.

Maganbhai Patel was well-known in the South Asian community as he had been photographing immigrants from that area as they moved to Coventry since the 1950s.

But his work shot to national prominence when, at the age of 94, he held his first exhibition at Fargo Village at the end of 2016 as part of the bid for Coventry to be UK City of Culture.

The exhibition was curated by the Photo Archive Miners (PAM) and a book of his work was released 12 months later at an event at St Mary’s Guildhall.

The exhibition – which later went to Mumbai and New York – and the book saw Masterji attract global media attention, including visits from BBC national news on two occasions and other national and international press coverage.

Masterji’s daughter, Tarla Patel, said: “Gaining recognition in his later life was beautiful to see as a family.

“My father’s talent and his warmth is something that will be forever captured in his photography. Working alongside PAM for the Coventry 2021 bid was an amazing experience for all the family and brought a joy to my father, and those that he met along the way.”

Laura McMillan, Director of Operations and Legacy at Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “Our thoughts are with Masterji’s family at this time. We were proud to work with him, his daughter, Tarla, and the whole family as well as the team at PAM to help share his story with the world – and what an inspirational story it is.

“He held his first exhibition at the age of 94 and released his first book aged 95 and it was lovely to see how much the recognition meant to him and his family.

“And we have no doubt whatsoever that his work made a major contribution to Coventry being named UK City of Culture 2021. We talked a great deal about the diversity of the city during the bid process but Masterji’s photos were a wonderful illustration of that and have given a much better understanding of the city’s history in terms of immigration from South Asia.

“We are deeply sorry for the family’s loss and we know he will be sorely missed.”

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