Against the political and historical events that defined the twentieth century, Shemelis Desta recorded the tumultuous history of Ethiopia. For the first time in a major exhibition the key figures and moments he captured are revealed.
From the early 60s until deposition, Desta was the former Emperor Haile Selassie’s official court photographer. During this time, he took photographs of state leaders, including a youthful Queen Elizabeth II, paying their respects.
Following the infamous 1974 military coup and subsequent deposition of the Emperor, Desta continued to record government activity under the rule of the military dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam. Desta captured the colourful pageantry of state military processions as well as a state visit from Fidel Castro.