Ghanaian Artist El Anatsui, First African Appointed at London’s Royal Academy
Ghanaian artist El Anatsui has been appointed honorary academician by London’s Royal Academy. Best-known for his monumental fabrics made with thousands of small metal pieces, he’s the first African to receive the accolade. Question: what does this mean for African art?
The recent “rise of African Fashion” within global media is a bit of a dead tune in these parts. In Ghana, style has always been big news. The Internet makes all the difference now. Some fifteen years ago, you wouldn’t see the freshest Ghanaian designs on Instagram or Tumblr because all the fresh styles were on the streets.
The best designs are still on the streets. Street design shops, big and small, stock some of the finest locally made outfits in the city. Every minute someone from Ghana is posting a Look Book online allowing thousands of people around the world to tap into Ghana’s style portal. Let’s not forget designer labels like Louis Vuitton slipping fashion aesthetics from Ghana onto the runway without acknowledging the origins.
Ghana has a long tradition of customized clothing dating as far back as the pre-colonial era. Several waves of freed slaves from Bahia in Brazil landed on the shores of West Africa in the mid nineteenth centuries, particularly Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The ones who came to Accra were given land and GA citizenship by King Tackie Tawiah I in 1836. The Tabom people, as these returnees were later called, arrived with a lot of skills ranging from military tactics, architecture, carpentry, irrigation engineering to tailored clothing. The renowned Morton Family are descendants of the Tabom people. The Mortons were expert merchants and tailors, credited with setting up Scissors House, the first tailoring shop in Accra. Continue reading
Two years ago when visual artist Attukwei Clottey decided to showcase work in his hometown, La, he knew he had to get an enthusiastic group of young folks to buy into the idea. Attukwei wanted the people of La to understand the power of art and how it could transform their community.
Between art residencies in Austria and Netherlands, Attukwei took action and assembled a gathering of characters under the pseudonym “GoLokal.” He adopted this name because of the indigenous style of this artist crew – visually provoking, eclectic, cool yet vibrant. GoLokal is comprised of ten members in total [6 guys, 4 girls] who are quite passionate about their newfound mission.
Since 2012, GoLokal has gained an ever-expanding audience with major performance at art events across the city. In 2013, the crew arrested the attention of attendees’ at ACCRA [dot] ALT’s CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival, literally, taking over the street with improve performances. They even led a grand parade down High Street with the Flat Land Boys bikers and the 25-member Winneba Masquerade. Last month, we jammed up with GoLokal at the 2nd annual FashionistaGH Shopping Festival at Trade Fair. With collage costumes, bright yellow jerry cans, slick face paint and killer dance moves, GoLokal had crowds snapping smartphone pics all afternoon. Word on the street is the people can’t get enough of the La mobile art shows.
No matter how often we work with Attukwei and the rest of the GoLokal crew, we are consistently fascinated by their fresh performance installations. Last week, I visited Attukwei at his art studio to chat on how GoLokal began, what they’re all about and what the art crew’s got going next. Continue reading