f you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I spent my evening yesterday at the Gallery of African Art for their Private Viewing event, which they organise every time a new exhibition is launched. I’ve been to the gallery several times and I love the space. Their exhibitions are always beautifully displayed, usually two artists are exhibiting and their individual works become part of a larger theme. At the moment, Etiyé Dimma Poulson and Stacey Okparavero are exhibiting their works, which spiral around and explore the theme of ‘AWAKENING AND POWER: Artistic Expressions Transcending Time’. POWER and strength are certainly welcoming you upon entering the gallery and seeing the works of Etiye Dimma Poulson for the first time, and Stacey Okparavero’s paintings continue this downstairs.
As you know, I am not a big fan of ‘spoilers’ so I don’t want to go into detailed descriptions of the works on display, but instead, I would encourage you to visit the gallery and have a look for yourselves. Immerse yourselves in the art, and soak up the powerful images and sculptures created by these two female artists. For those of you who cannot go to the gallery yourselves, I have added a few photographs from last night, which do not, however, do justice in any way to works on display.
Why the Gallery of African Art Matters
Apart from the great artworks that are shown at the gallery, the message, motivation and the director behind it contribute to my fascination with and appreciation of the gallery. The gallery is owned and directed by the camera and press shy Mrs Cooper, a woman, who is as knowledgeable, intelligent, and determined, as she is humble, kind, and welcoming. For her, this gallery is more than just a business or a job, it is a calling and a mission. In a conversation with her, she told me that her gallery is not just a place for exhibitions of African arts and artists, but that it is a place of learning and growing. They regularly hire interns – who have to be African / of African descent and female – acknowledging the disadvantages black women experience in the outside world, and thus giving them a chance and a platform to learn, grow and thrive under the auspices of the director herself.
Mrs Cooper added that the gallery welcomes classes and groups of young pupils to come and explore the art and learn more about African art more generally. They have a well stocked library, which is only available upon request, where both the interns and the young visitors can learn more about various art forms, artists, African culture, style, and more.
This gallery is run by black women for black women, without excluding anyone, regardless of their gender or race. It consciously gives a voice, a space and a platform to women, but it also acknowledges male talent form the continent, such as Evans Mbugua, for example, who exhibited his works during the last exhibition at the gallery.
The Gallery of African Art, London
So, I urge you to go and have a look at the current exhibition at the gallery, but don’t feel like you have to be an expert at arts. If you have any questions and are willing to learn, ask Mrs Cooper or anyone else who is at the gallery when you visit, and I am sure you will learn more about the current exhibition as well as African art more generally. An added bonus, especially for some like me who likes little memorabilia, is their collection of postcards which have current and past arts works on them, as well as some brochures on great artists such as Nike Davies-Okundaye that you can purchase, because, like I said, this gallery is more than a place to buy beautiful art, it’s a place of learning, sharing, and growing.