What’s wrong with this picture?

touch of art

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:

MoMa 1

moma 2

On 14th June PartYcipate Events (click here) organised the 2nd ‘A Touch of Art’ event in Central London showcasing nine talented (African) artists:

Lotus Menezes (Tanzania)

Yaw Mante (Ghana)

Shiri Achu (Cameroon)

Naa Merley Okine (Ghana)

Segilola Scott (Nigeria)

Catherine Mwase (Tanzania)

Art’s Advocate (Lawrence Amajuoyi) (Nigeria)

Shani Osman (UK, Malawi)

Winnie Awa of Uli-Museum (Nigeria)

Guest speaker Desne Masie of the Royal African Society spoke on the connection between ‘African Art and Finance – how the Africa Rising narrative has translated in increased interest in Africa’s art and cultural products’.

The talent in the room was undeniable and I was pleasantly surprised, I don’t know why though. Maybe because I wouldn’t usually associate Africans with modern art, which (now thinking about it) is crazy considering Africa’s history and cultural vibrancy! I think it’s also because many African parents, especially those raising their children in the diaspora, are not willing to encourage their children to pursue careers in the arts.

I watched a clip on You Tube where London-based Congolese comedian Eddie Caddie, recollects how he struggled to realise his potential in becoming a comedian, and asked his dad for advice, who replied saying (in an African accent), ‘you have potential for accountancy, so university is where you will go!’. It’s a shame that African parents don’t push their children in creative arts industries as they would into medicine or finance. I do understand why though, every parent wants their child to have a ‘secure’ future, and historically the arts have been deemed a bit unstable, but now things are changing.

During the event (I took pictures on my phone, not very artisitc I know lol) biographies of each artist were projected onto a screen and it was interesting to see that many of them didn’t focus solely on pursuing their artistic passion, but are studying at university and have fulltime jobs! I loved Art’s Advocate portrayal of Jonelle Monae, (who I was lucky to see perform live in New York), but was even more impressed that he is studying Engineering while honing his talent.

A Touch of Art - Art's Advocate
A Touch of Art – Art’s Advocate

I usually see Naa Merley Okine, snapping away with her camera at Star 100 events, being a member of the Committee. I knew she was a solicitor, but was amazed when I saw her artistic exploits at A Touch of Art.

A Touch of Art - Naa Merley Okine
A Touch of Art – Naa Merley Okine
A Touch of Art - Naa Merley Okine
A Touch of Art – Naa Merley Okine

They say we are ‘creatures of habit’, but I love going new places and discovering unsung talent. Shani Osman’s portraits of Malawian boys using thick heavy brush strokes also made me respect all the talent that was in the room.

A Touch of Art - Shani Osman
A Touch of Art – Shani Osman

Props to PartYcipate who organised the event, in support of the Songhai Art Foundation which assists struggling artists in Ghana and Africa to commercialize and promote their work.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Nothing! It’s nice to see African art given a platform. PartYcipate keeps the ball rolling, so see you at a Touch of Art  next year!




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