As I stepped into the Turner Contemporary Gallery, I was taken aback by the sheer scale of ‘The British Library, 2014, an Installation by the Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE .
From floor to Ceiling, hundreds of books are neatly organized in book shelfs that entirely cover 3 walls – Just like in a library. The books are covered in wax prints, one of Yinka’s signature materials. Together, the books make visible and almost palpable the contribution that consecutive waves of Immigrants have made to British Society. Glowing in the distance, are the names of some of the most famous immigrants and descendants of immigrants to the UK. As you step closer and read out the names, from Zaha Hadid to Anthony Bennett, from Prince Charles to Charles Mendes, from Laura Mvula to Mo Farah you couldn’t help but wonder what the alternative story – without immigration – would have been. What the UK would have looked like as a society? Which is precisely one of the objectives of the artist; questioning the role of immigration in our society.
Dear James, you are a pioneer among African photographers. You were the first Ghanaian photographer to shoot the cover for Drum, one of the first black magazines in the Sixties. We wanted our readers to learn more about your background and the impact of your work.
You trained as a basket weaver and worked as a teacher, what made you take up photography?
As I always say, Photography was practiced in my family: I had two maternal uncles who were Professional Photographers, when I was born; there were also two cousins well vexed in photography. I did not associate with any of them seriously but I remember showing an interest when I left school. I wanted to become a Police Photographer!
Somehow or somewhere along the line I ended up serving a two year apprenticeship with Mr. J.P.Darku Dodoo, one of my cousins, running a thriving practice in Accra Ghana.
Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga is a young Congolese Artist. In his paintings, he explores the tension between tradition and modernity through the current fate of the Mangbetu people.
The Mangbetu are a small tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Originally a warrior tribe from Sudan, they have migrated and settled in Congo in the 18th century. Once a proud tribe, reputed for their crafts and their beautiful elongated heads, they are now reduced to a remnant group of elderly people. Like endangered species, their very existence and their culture are slowly dying out. Their elongated heads that used to be a distinct and proud sign of their tribe, have turned into an insult among their fellow citizens who value modern beauty standards.
Welcome into the world of Ilhem, a world where colours, design and craftsmanship fuse beautifully together to create a unique range of clutch bags that she launched under the brand: Anago. Her Anago clutch bags are a vivid expression of who she is, her multicultural background along with her love for contemporary design and aesthetic.
Contemporary African Art and Design is going through a renaissance period and 2016 will be no different. African Artists are moving from the fringe of the art scene, into the mainstream and enjoying greater recognition for their work. Read on to find out where the next exhibition near you is scheduled. Hope to see you there.
Contemporary African Art is booming and 2015 was a year to remember. From the successful second edition of 1:54 Art fair in London to the “Kongo, Power and Majesty” exhibition in New York, it was clear that Contemporary African Art had burst onto the International scene and was gaining an overdue recognition.
One of the most successful African Art exhibitions last year was “Beauté Congo 1926 – 1915” at the Fondation Cartier in Paris. Its success was a testament to the global interest for this artistic style at the time when Auction houses had recorded the highest level of activity to date, for African Art.
A New Year usually calls for moderation, a renewed commitment to be the better version of ourselves and focus on our health and fitness. So let us introduce you to new superfoods, packed with nutrients that have been used for centuries in Africa and have begun to be known outside of the continent. We are starting the African superfood series with the baobab fruit.
New York, London, Paris, Addis Ababa. Who is the intruder? None. Major exhibitions and events showcasing African Art and Contemporary African Design are scheduled in these cities and elsewhere around the world.
Exhibitions such as “Kongo”, are unearthing unseen art works forgotten in museums or hidden in private collections. In doing so, they are providing the public with new understanding of a rich and troubled past. Meanwhile, the continent is resolutely turned toward the future, a recurring theme of several exhibitions. The artistic future is in the hands of some younger artists whose works are acclaimed at the “Beaute Congo” exhibition in Paris. This buoyant creative life is one of the key drivers of growth, as we will soon find out at the first Addis Ababa Design Week planned in December.
Obatala was born out of a simple dream.
- A dream, to show you a different side of Africa.
- A dream to take you travelling with us, off the beaten track and discover some hidden gems along the way.
- Finally, a dream to create a different narrative about Africa: focused on innovation, creativity and design, showcased in accessories and art.
Obatala is the god of Creativity in the Yoruba (Nigerian) mythology and it is a fitting name for our endeavor.