Contemporary African art is coming into its own and burgeoning right now. As a result there are a few exhibitions happening in London showcasing the most inventive artists from the continent. Many are due to take place in October, also inadvertently Black History Month.
In a series of blogs we’ll be taking a look at some of them. First up is Graphic Africa, an exhibition running at Habitat.
This was initially part of the now closed London Design Festival, which took place in September. However Habitat’s string runs until 20 October.
Altogether there are 20 pieces of new furniture and a capsule collection of ceramics, glassware and lighting being showcased, and not all are for sale in the home store.
The most striking collection on show is that of Mali based textile designer Boubacar Doumbia. It takes inspiration from the design technique – bogalan, which uses traditional colours of the Dogon people and works mud and clay from the Niger river into woven cloth, painting the background which then leaves the outline of the pattern.
Ten countries within East, West and South Africa are represented through 16 designers. Babacar M’Bodj Niang creates skillfully crafted wooden furniture with delicate curved legs whereas Burkina Faso’s Hamed Ouattara creates furniture made out of metal and other salvaged mixed materials. Andile Dyalvane and Zizipho Poswa behind Imiso Ceramics based in South Africa create intricately decorated pottery and clay wares.
However there is some criticism. Having the exhibition take place in London’s exclusive King’s Road store severely limits the audience and potential customers for this exhibition. If an individual is shopping at King’s Road, they are already collecting African textiles and designs from luxury holidays abroad. Furthermore, Kensington and Chelsea is known for having poor links to the underground.
Habitat’s motto is to make outstanding design available to all. Hence, this really should have been about opening up these designs to a wider audience, who would not normally have exposure to it. All things considered, it is still worth the trip up to Chelsea.