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Franklyn Rodgers

Franklyn Rodgers is an award-winning artist and creative director working within the medium of photography, critical thinking and research to expand the possibilities of portraiture, communicating our shared identities and collective understanding.

Franklyn’s works are held in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Wellcome Collection, Autograph-ABP, The Queen Mary University, Arts Council England and now Lloyd’s Collection. His awards include the NESTA Fellowship, Arts Council, The London Arts Board, B.A.V.C San Francisco, Art 360 and he was nominated for the Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize.

One of Franklyn's most poignant works is Devotion: A Portrait of Loretta. This portrait was inspired after Franklyn took his mother, Loretta, for her 79th birthday on a visit to Tate and her reaction was, ‘Franklyn, not one of them on the wall look like me'. He resolved to change this and produced large-scale intimate portraits of his mother and her friends for an exhibition at Autograph in 2018, aiding a voice for women of that generation. He also honoured Dame Doreen Lawrence in the same exhibition. A monograph on his work: ‘The Philosophy of Strangers’, was published in 2007.

Franklyn’s approach to creating the portraits for Lloyds aligns with the D&I strategies of our Champions in that he believes: ‘Being heard visually is fundamental to being seen’. Working sensitively and collaboratively with each sitter, he created a dialogue that allowed them to ‘stand in their truth’.

Franklyn began with an understanding of the context of the exhibition location in the Old Library, which was built for the 1928 Lloyd’s building to house an unrivalled collection of books on marine insurance and converted by Richard Rogers to act as a conference room and event space. Instead of the books that lined the walls, the Old Library is now a space that houses a different aspect of our history through the portraits of past Chairman, alongside the seminal figure of Cuthbert Heath. With his detailed knowledge of art history and portraiture, Franklyn researched Lloyd’s portraits and their artists as the basis for his aesthetic approach to the works.

Franklyn chose to work in a particular way with the Lloyd's sitters. He explains, ‘I believe great portraits are often given, not taken in a space of trust, understanding, empathy and purpose.’ For each sitter, he shared a list of questions for consideration, including how they saw the value of their contributions of this time in relation to Lloyd’s history and their hopes for what the portraits would represent. He held individual meetings with each of Lloyd's role models to absorb the thoughts, feelings, expressions and viewpoints of how each person saw themselves and how they wanted to be represented. Working with his assistant and partner, Cecilia Magill, who has been an active and essential co-producer of the project, this was a key part of the process to start the dialogue, which would be transformed into a visual collaboration.

Artwork by Ben Connors

The photographic sessions followed with many of the sittings taking over three hours each. Franklyn worked meticulously, much like an oil painter sculpting in light and shadow to create the portraits within the Lloyds landscape with each sitter. His empowering works show each of our role models in different locations in and around the Lloyd’s building.

In the tradition of the history of portraiture in which subjects are shown with items of symbolic value to them, Franklyn worked with each D&I Champion to create a particular image that resonated with their principles. Rob wanted to be shown in traditional Ghanian dress; David Flint chose to bring a trophy given to him for being the manager of Lloyd’s Football Club 2005-2021; Rebecca wore a necklace given to her by her ally at Aon during her transition; Kirat wore the dress she made from the paper pattern her mother kept of the first dress she made when she emigrated to the United Kingdom 65 years ago; Sheila shared a portrait of her three children and Erik held the hand of his partner, Jonas. These details create clues to what makes them who they are, their whole selves and their journey as a role model. Sheila Cameron notably said being Chief Executive of the LMA ‘is only a small part of who I am'. In the works beautifully created by Franklyn of our individual D&I Champions' portraits, he alludes to the person beyond the professional and the working life in the insurance business. Our trailblazers are such because they are proud and willing to speak about their identities and the personal. It is not only what they do, but also, who they are and how they inspire others to attain their own success through their dignified bravery and strength.