African Art in London

London / Art / Africa

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That’s all (from me) folks

The day has come for me to say goodbye to African Art in London. Sniff.

But fear not – I didn’t want the flow of information and ideas to fizzle out, so I’ve recruited an excellent editor (and more) to take things over. I’m sure they’ll introduce themselves in due course.

In the meantime, thanks for reading and supporting African Art in London, and I hope you’ll continue to do so!

E x


Goodbye London – writer needed!

Regular followers of this blog may have noticed an unusual lapse in posting over the last month or so… my apologies. There’s a good excuse, though, which is that I have recently relocated to New York, to take up a job at the Museum for African Art! I’ll be getting involved with some exciting projects over the next couple of years, including this exhibition by Jane Alexander which is coming up soon at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The Museum for African Art is currently in a transitional period and awaiting the opening of its new building, but there is plenty going on in the meantime, which you can find out about here.

I’m thrilled about my new position but sad to leave London and all the exciting things happening there. Most of all, I think it’s important to keep documenting and sharing all the great work relating to Africa that’s being done by artists, curators, gallerists and others in London right now. So I’m looking for a volunteer to take over updating this blog, and its Twitter feed.

It’s not a difficult or especially time-consuming job, and can be very rewarding. In fact, it’s really whatever you want it to be. The blog archive that has built up over the last few years offers a good starting point in terms of identifying some of the key museums, galleries and individuals working in the area, but there’s always more to add. I’ve tended to focus on contemporary visual arts, but there’s definitely scope to broaden the range of topics covered. Staying up to date with everything that’s going on is a challenge (and I haven’t always succeeded…) but I’m very happy to work with the new writer on ways of keeping track of events, developing useful contacts etc.

If you’re interested, please get in touch with me (Evelyn) at, telling me a little about yourself and why you’d like to take charge of African Art in London. Possible things to include:

  • why you’re interested in African Art
  • your interpretation of what the blog African Art in London is about
  • what you think running the blog involves (or how you would approach the task)
  • ways that you would hope to develop the blog
  • a link to something you’ve written (doesn’t have to be about art)
  • a sample post for a forthcoming exhibition or event (doesn’t have to be Africa-based)

You’ve got until the end of January. Good luck!

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‘Africa: Challenging Conventional Wisdom’ @ TEDxEuston

Thanks to Dr Ike Anya for putting this on my radar: the next TEDxEuston event is now open for booking, and places fill up fast, so if you want to attend, act quickly.

As the ‘x’ indicates, TEDxEuston is an independently organised TED event. The only Africa-focused TEDx event held outside the African continent, it ‘aims to reflect ideas and inspired thinking of a new generation of African leaders’.

This year’s event has the theme ‘Africa: Challenging Conventional Wisdom’, and has a great line-up of speakers, with a handful of big hitters from the arts and cultural sectors – novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, digital artist Jepchumba and novelist and journalist Aminatta Forna – alongside high-flyers in the worlds of business and politics.

It’s a non-profit event (speakers and organisers are unpaid); attendance costs £70 (or £50 if you’re a student) and includes meals all day and the after party. You can register here.

Sat 1 December 2012, 10:30-22:30

The Mermaid Conference and Event Centre
Puddle Dock, Blackfriars, London

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Wide Open School @ Hayward Gallery

Thanks to Hannah Pool for the heads up on this one – how did I miss the Wide Open School at the Hayward Gallery? Two and a half weeks of artist-led classes, workshops and discussions, many of which were free, have already sped past… but fear not, there’s still plenty more to come before the School closes on 11th July, including Gillian Wearing on ‘the creative state of being’ and ‘being happy’, and two sound workshops with Susan Philipsz.

Fans of contemporary art and artists from/about Africa may be especially interested in the following:

Bouchra Khalili – Do You Speak English? – on language and film
Fri 29th June, 2pm, £10

Romuald Hazoumè – Scrap tales: making art with discarded materials – workshop
Sat 30th June + Sun 1st July, 2pm, free
Tues 3rd July + Weds 4th July, 2pm, free

Wael Shawky – Art and history – discussion
Tues 10th July, 2pm, £10

Pascale Marthine Tayou – From inception to death: the nature and life cycle of artworks – discussion
Tues 10th July, 2pm, £10
Weds 11th July, 2pm, £10

Plus, my pick of the rest:

Isaac Julien with David Harvey – Choreographing Capital
Weds 4th July, 8pm, £10

Limited concessions are available for most events – check the website.

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Africa Now @ Bonhams

This Wednesday it’s another installment of Africa Now, the Bonhams auction promising “the very best of post-war and contemporary art from across the African continent”. As my colleagues over at Africa Is A Country point out, the selection is hardly groundbreaking; as they also note, however, auction houses are not exactly at the cutting edge of contemporary art, so expecting anything more from this particular event is perhaps a little unfair. Bonhams’ objectives are purely commercial, and most of the works on offer reflect the tastes (or perceived tastes) of their wealthy, predominantly Nigerian, clientele. As it was once explained to me: “There are two sides to the art world, the whorehouse and the nunnery. And we’re very much in the whorehouse!”

You can take a look at what’s up for grabs during one of the viewing slots:

22 May, 9 – 4.30
23 May, 9 – 12

The auction itself takes place on Wednesday 23rd May at 2pm.

If the whorehouse isn’t for you (or if your experience there leaves you in need of a spiritually purging trip to the nunnery), there’s a talk at the Brunei Gallery that evening from artist Sokari Douglas Camp – details here.

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African Art on Twitter!

So, African Art in London has decided to enter the Twitterverse… it’s a place to share updates from the blog, as well as other news that I don’t have time to do a proper post about. It’s an experiment, and I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out yet, but so far, it’s proving an interesting distraction. Or a distracting interest. Probably both.

You can see the African Art London (no space for the ‘in’!) Twitter feed here and follow me by clicking on the button to the right.

You can send me a tweet @AfricanArtLdn.

Tweet tweet.

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“An Urban Twist” from Morocco @ Coningsby Gallery

Larbi Cherkaoui

Works by Moroccan artists Larbi Cherkaoui, Kim Bennani, Said Yaghfouri, Zineb Echiguer and Said Qodaid are on display at the Coningsby Gallery next week, to mark the launch of a new online gallery dedicated to contemporary art from Morocco. Based in London and Rabat, Moroccan Fine Art is run by  Nadia Echiguer and Adnan Bennani, currently represents nine artists, and offers a variety of consultancy services. More details here.

Show: 7th-12th May

Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 11-6

Coningsby Gallery
30 Tottenham Street, London

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The struggle over the Africa Centre continues

Here’s an interesting article from openDemocracy on the ongoing battle over the Africa Centre, which I posted about here and here. A public meeting in January this year resulted in demands for a moratorium on the sale of the building while an open consultation on the charity’s Vision and Governance is carried out, but there has as yet been no response; meanwhile, the debate around the centre’s significance – cultural, political, financial, emotional – rumbles on.

You can read more about the Save the Africa Centre campaign at its website, where there is a recently-published vision statement.

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Africa Centre Rising @ Brunei Gallery, SOAS

As part of ongoing discussions about the future of the Africa Centre, there’s an open meeting later this month at SOAS. It promises to be a heated debate; a quick look at the Save the Africa Campaign blog shows that although attempts have now been made by the trustees to engage in some kind of consultation, there is still a long way to go, and the future remains uncertain. To hear the latest and get involved, register your interest here and head down to the Brunei Gallery at 7pm on January 26th.

N.B for a bit of history and a nicely balanced assessment of the situation, take a look at this article from the Financial Times. It’s a bit out of date, but if you’re looking for background reading before heading down to the event, this is a good place to start.

January 26th, 19:00 – 21:00

Brunei Gallery, Room B102B
SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London


Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle @ ???

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle (2010) - Yinka Shonibare. Photo by Geoff Pugh

The time has almost come for Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle to set sail and vacate her berth on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, leaving it ready for the next occupant. But where will she go? Perhaps just down the river to Greenwich, if the Art Fund has anything to do with it. They’ve set up a campaign to keep the ship in London and on public view; this means raising £362,500 in addition to the £50,000 grant already awarded, to purchase the work and put it on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum. Artist Yinka Shonibare supports the campaign – he ‘just can’t think of a better place than Greenwich’. Read more about it here, and, if you want to keep Shonibare’s ship where Londoners can enjoy it, make a donation here.