Ghana’s art scene is taking shape

 It’s been 59 years to the day since Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from colonial rule. Currently there are many issues affecting the country, which will probably reach boiling point during what will be a hotly contested election in November.

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.


Ghana art, African art, ghanaian artists
Passionate about African art: Gallery 1957 Creative Director, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim.

 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.

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Featured image collage: Serge Attukwei Clottey courtesy of Gallery 1957 and Abdul Ndadi.


What do you call it… urban?

During the hottest weekend in London this year (13th-14th July) so far, Josephine Avenue in South London was the canvas for numerous artists during the annual alfresco Urban Art Fair 2013. I went on day one and was first greeted by street artists spray painting a train and later by an eclectic mix of paintings, photography, mixed media and sculptures. Despite running for over a decade, this was actually the first time I heard of the Urban Art Fair; one of the exhibiting artists, Merley Okine invited me. I guess it’s called urban art because of the location in the heart of Brixton, but walking along the winding road of Josephine Avenue surrounded by dense foliage, it was easy to believe I was out somewhere in suburbia; it was nice to see different interpretations of personal creativity. Freshly prepared by a French crêpe maker from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, I continued strolling along eating my Belgian chocolate crêpe, I shared with a friend and just admired the creations. There were gaps during my admiration where I remembered my traumatic artistic teenage years. Yes, memories of my school art lessons came back to haunt me. I’ll admit that I am not the best drawer but I tried, however I never got that elusive ‘A’ or ‘B’ for effort! Anyway, as I have forgiven my art teacher :-), let’s have a look at people who probably did get A’s for art at school:

Photos: All pictures taken on my mobile (Artist details below)

On arrival – Street Artists
On arrival – Street Artists

Continue reading What do you call it… urban?