Kente Cloth, with its vibrant colors and bold geometric patterns is one of the most recognizable traditional African textiles. Although it has come to symbolize Ghana, it is also woven in neighboring Ivory Coast and Togo (West Africa). Nowadays, Kente’s distinctive patterns are printed onto various materials destined for numerous uses; from fashion accessories to homeware and anything in between. While its usage increases, there is little known about the cloth itself, its origin and how it came to become so popular. So we picked up some African textiles literature and went back to the source with weaver Gideon Gamado in Ghana to learn more.
The exhibition, the art of a nation, retraces the chronological history of South Africa through art going back 3 million years, up to the emergence of what is known today as the Rainbow Nation. It is a myth busting display, challenging some long held beliefs in Art History.
3 Million years ago, a Human Ancestor in South Africa collected a face-like stone, The Makapansgat Pebble, probably on the sole merit of its shape and aesthetics. Some millions of years later, those who followed, had shaped ironstone into a hand axe (found in Kathu Pan) and shell beads into necklace. These exhibits, dating back respectively 100,000 and 78,000 years, demonstrate Humans’ early interest in Art and position South Africa as one of the artistic cradles of humanity.
Malick Sidibé, the celebrated Malian photographer, passed away in 2016. In a lifetime dedicated to photography, he took a vast collection of pictures that shed a light on the major transformations that the Malian society had been through. In his black and white pictures, he captured the character and the essence of the youth of his country; exploding with joy, embracing modernity and pop culture. A selection of his pictures is now on display in London at Somerset House. “Malick Sidibé: the eye of modern Mali”, is the Artist’s first ever solo exhibition in the UK.