Indigenous African art features at tribal art fair in London

Art dealers, collectors and art lovers recently converged at the annual Tribal Art London fair, an event that promotes ethnographic art from parts of the world. African collectors showcased artefacts from various countries in the continent including masks, beadwork, jewellery and sculptures among other pieces.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT) (REUTERS) – The annual Tribal Art London (TAL) fair, the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom, recently returned to the city with a display of ethnographic art from various parts of the world.

This year’s edition gave visitors a chance to learn more about traditional African art and cultural heritage.

Featured works included the Ere Ibeji wooden carvings from Nigeria’s Yoruba community.

The male and female sculptures are said to be a focal point for the spiritual energy of a deceased twin, thought to reside in the supernatural realm where its cared for by a spiritual mother.

The Yoruba have one of the highest rates of twinning in the world. The sculpture is ritually washed, fed, clothed and carried in a cloth wrapper by the mother like a real baby.

It is believed that families take comfort in knowing the spiritual mother cares for the departed twin.

The fair attracted works from over 20 galleries this year.

Kezhia Orege is a Kenyan who exhibited her collection at the fair. She says she will also be taking artworks to Kenyan classrooms to enable students learn more about African heritage.

“These objects when they were made they were never recorded, they were actually made for personal life to be used within the house and they were very very private, they did not see the need – it’s like you boil a kettle of water to make tea, this was part of their everyday activity. So it was never recorded it was never meant to be in public. But we have learn that these objects are actually part of our history and it’s now time to educate our children about them,” said Orege.

Started in 2007, the exhibition has grown to include workshops, art demonstrations and lectures on various topics including tribal textiles, headwear and ornaments.

The fair also holds an art auction for collectors selling offer items in support of an identified charity.

This year proceeds will go towards improving access to education for children in Tanzania.

Although prices are gradually creeping up organizers say there is always something new to learn about the artworks.

Lydia Contris, a Tanzanian collector was also at the fair.

“The money that has been raised it’s going to make a huge difference to those children who would maybe not be able to finish their primary school because the parents cannot afford to pay the money or the teacher being paid really bad then not teaching properly. So it has been a huge success and a big impact,” said Contris.

Josephine Kwakye, a Ghanaian collector educated visitors about the Ashanti gold ring, which was worn by a chief or elder to signify wisdom and longevity.

People also got to know more about indigenous textiles from Ghana at her stand.

“Some of us are lost we don’t even remember where we’re coming from. You need to read books you need to find out. But I believe when my parents were young they go to school they practice their dancing or their religious culture and they do tell us about the stories about all the things that is normal. So I think that old people should start doing that and support the youth so that we can bring the culture back,” she said.

Short films and a photo exhibition also featured at the five day event which closed on September 8.

Associated Links

  • Ashanti Gold
  • Visual arts
  • Arts
  • Human behavior
  • Human appearance
  • Jewellery
  • Mask
  • Tribal art
  • Beadwork
  • Art dealer

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