Despite all the politics, the country is basking in its burgeoning contemporary art scene. Gallery 1957 is opening in the country’s capital Accra, marking independence day, by showcasing a history of Ghanaian art and the work of current contemporary artists. The Ghanaian art scene has been struggling for decades, requiring funding, but those within the industry, like Creative Director of Gallery 1957, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, are passionate about providing Ghanaian artists, like Serge Attukwei Clottey, an environment where they can produce and showcase their creations, while earning a living from their art.
Pic via Okayafrica: Artwork: Ibrahim Mahama. Photo: Alice McCool
Creatives in the diaspora are also drawing on their heritage for inspiration. Ghanaian-American animator Abdul Ndadi created a cartoon, who’s main character, a young African girl called Orisha takes on adventures.
The cartoon has a Pan-African feel, covering Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Gambia and Guinea; from the characters, storylines to the music. It aims to show children a different narrative to what they usually see and provide black children with an additional character they can physically identify with.
“As an artist I felt a responsibility, even in a small way, to have an image of a beautiful African girl our youth could identify with, doing cool things. The main reason my main character is female is because not only do black women deal with the problem of racism, they also have the added burden of sexism as well.” – Abdul Ndadi
The cartoon has already had audiences at various festivals, including the 2015 Cannes Short Film Corner and the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan. Check out an interview with Abdul Ndadi at OkayAfrica and a snippet of Orisha’s Journey below.
Snippets of an African legacy, from a colourful perspective.
Art classes were the bane of my existence at school. I wasn’t born to paint (which is fine 🙂 and I realized that early on in life (with the help of a mean art teacher!). I’ve always envied those who can tell stories or capture moment with a sculpture or drawing.
I don’t really think of art as synonymous with Africans, and put that down to being raised in Europe where we’re force fed European art. I guess it’s also my fault for not being proactive in searching for African artists too! Academically, art isn’t a subject that is high on the agenda for most African parents in the diaspora or on the continent for that matter. Rarely are African children encouraged to purse their artistic side or made to believe it’s as a viable career choice.
African art and Artists are quite neglected compared to their European or American counterparts. The Foundation for Contemporary Art-Ghana (FCA), is one of its kind in the country, with a mission “to create an active network of artists, offer a platform for the presentation of contemporary art, and to develop a critical forum for the promotion of contemporary art in Ghana.” The growing collection of ‘Africa/ Africa Diaspora’ section of the resource centre focuses on artists working in Africa and its diaspora. After devastating floods in Ghana’s capital Accra, the FCA is asking for donations to rebuild the foundations headquarters and restore books and other valuables that were destroyed.
Dennis was apparently inspired to do the drawings after his friend was ridiculed by people in the street for wearing the traditional Ghanaian kente cloth. Dennis wanted to erase some of the ignorance surrounding an aspect of African culture.
Internationally celebrated Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, who’s sculptures have taken prominent stages in New York and Sydney, is described as ‘reflecting devastation and colonisation’, in his work. Anatsui was winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2015 Venice Biennale.
This year, his work showcased in Sydney, is a celebration of 50 years of work. Comprising drawings, wall and floor installations, as well as woodcarvings incorporating West African adinkra symbols.
Renowned architect, David Adjaye’s structural designs can be found across continents. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents; there’s no doubt his eclectic upbringing has contributed to his architectural prowess.
“By the time I was 14, I had lived in Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Nairobi, Cairo, Beirut, Accra and Jedda, and had quite a complex view of Africa.”
“Yes, the project has failed. It’s gated, it has security cameras everywhere and it has barbed wire. But that is because of the context we are in now. I hope that in 10 years or in five years this changes.”
Anyone who knows African culture is acutely aware that funerals are a big deal! There is no difference in Ghana, where craftsmanship is expressed throughout Ghanaian life, from the beginning to the end, literally! Who said a coffin was just a box?! Novelty coffins are becoming more and more popular in Ghana.
Creativity never likes being restricted, life experiences and cultures are the basis of any art form, whether it be song, dance, words, paintings or structures. Artists want to be known as just that….Artists.
“I have a genetic relationship to the continent, also a cultural and lived relationship. I now have an office in Ghana and other places [but] I am less interested in the definition than I am in the way I can use it to produce in the world.” David Adjaye, Architect.
Snippets of an African legacy from a colourful perspective
Some of my favourite quotes for this week: Quotes that put a smile on my face, quotes to challenge me, quotes that make me think, quotes that inspire, quotes that motivate. There’s nothing like a good old quote!
“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” H.G Wells – English author; 1866 –1946
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana – Spanish philosopher; 1863 – 1952)
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” George Bernard Shaw – Irish playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics; 1856-1950
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” Beverly Sills – American opera singer, 1929 – 2007
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Charles Swindoll – Christian preacher
“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do”. Steve Jobs – Co-founder of Apple Inc. 1955-2011
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.’ William James – American psychologist and philosopher, 1842 – 1910
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty in every age of life really never grows old.” Franz Kafka – German writer; 1883 – 1924
So, it’s nearly the end of June and the beginning of summer, a ‘British summer’ that is so I am not getting my hopes up! Usually June is pretty quiet for me, and a reminder that half of the year has gone! This year June was more eventful though, with the highlight being ‘A Touch of Art’. I’ll be honest, I’m no art critic but always admired the craft, especially as I am hopeless at drawing, but better at painting lol. I’ve visited the most popular galleries in London, including the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Wallace Collection. I’ve also visited some of the most famous ones in New York, the Guggenheim and MoMA. There were amazing portraits and sculptures, but what I remember most, when I visited in 2011 were these two posters: