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See this Ghanaian artist’s work at Brighton Festival

BRIGHT IDEA: Artworks by Serge Attukwei Clottey are going on display at this year’s Brighton Festival

STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL yet politically charged, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey’s large-scale Afrogallonism sculptures are meticulously fashioned from discarded 20 litre-plus yellow jerry cans.

The cans, imported into Ghana from Europe for carrying fuel, are often repurposed to carry potable water by people struggling with Ghana’s water shortages. This unhealthy practice was especially true during the era of president John Kufuor, giving them the nickname “Kufuor gallons”.

Attukwei Clottey’s use of the cans touches on global issues of plastic waste and access to basic services, but also promotes his philosophy of exploring personal and political narratives rooted in histories of colonialism, trade and migration.

The works will be on display at the Fabrica gallery as part of the Brighton Festival 2019, an annual curated multi-arts festival. Afrogallonism also takes note of the idea of space and territory. The artist has used his large yellow ‘tapestries’ to delineate or ‘re-territorialise’ space in new ways, both in Labadi, Ghana and in the space of the international art world.

For example, in Attukwei Clottey’s immediate neighbourhood, his ambitious project Yellow Brick Road involves covering the dirt streets with a patchwork of the artist’s works, occasionally draping sections over the walls and roofs of huts. An aerial view of the installation shows brilliant golden lines and dots owing through a maze of homes and structures.

“For me, it signifies the history of migration – and home,” he explains. Looking forward to the exhibition, Liz Whitehead, Fabrica director, told The Voice that as well as being politically charged, Attukwei Clottey’s art told a story on how ‘artists’ from the region were tackling the issue of how to “sustain themselves”.

She said: “Through this exhibition, we’ll be looking at Attukwei Clottey’s uniquely African model of working, and asking ourselves ‘what can we learn, how can we do things differently here?’”

The exhibition programme will also feature films of the artist’s performance work, and a panel discussion produced by Fabrica and the University of Brighton, highlighting Attukwei Clottey’s twin role as an artist and activist.

In May, the Brighton Festival will host acclaimed Malian singer Rokia Traoré as guest director. Traoré’s interest in the historic relationship between West Africa and Europe has led the festival and Fabrica to turn to West Africa and its contemporary artists as the starting point for their collaboration in 2019 and, working with the University of Brighton, the three will co-present the exhibition to appropriately contextualise Attukwei Clottey’s work and approach.

Watch our interview with Attukwei below:

Opening hours: Wed-Sat 1-6pm, Sun and bank holidays 2-6pm, every day May 4-27. Friday lates on April 26 and May 24, open until 10pm.

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