African album art

I recently purchased Cheikh-Lo's Lamp Fall album – which is brilliant by the way – and one thing that makes the experience complete is the beautiful album art and design. There are a lot of African albums with great art and design and, whether the artists and designers themselves are African or not, the inspiration clearly is. Here's a celebration of that inspiration with just a sprinkling of some great album covers.


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Liberia Independence Day


Africa's oldest republic, Liberia, celebrates 163 years of independence today (that's the 26th of July for those whose time zones are already in Tuesday).

Quilting is a longstanding tradition in Liberia, originating from freed slaves who emigrated from the US to Liberia. Above, a colourful celebration of Liberian quilts.

Quilt images from Hart Cottage Quilts

thenublack: call for artist submissions


Thenublack is putting together an art show to celebrate the blog's 2nd anniversary. If you are a visual artist (or know of any), thenublack is looking for great talent to showcase. 

The themes include:

  • Continuing a cultural legacy               
  • Icons past and present                        
  • A nod to the past
  • Celebrating contemporary Black culture            
  • I am thenublack (more details in the link below)

The show will take place in London this October and the deadline for submissions is August 2nd!

For more details, check out thenublack

The role of art


 “Art is not a mirror of reality
but the hammer which shapes it.”

—Bertholt Brecht

Since the known beginnings of humanity, people have been making art. The arts have been central in our societies, visible in our rituals and celebrations and even in our day-to-day, for example through how we dress and the objects we use. The arts have given us confidence and identity. They have created community. They have enabled us to have our voices heard and championed revolution. They have reminded us of the beauty of life. They have allowed us to express our sorrow as well as a joy. They have facilitated problem-solving, both within and outwardly. The arts are a proven powerful form of expression, communication and mobilisation.

With such potential, people everywhere are consciously recognising that the power of the arts can be harnessed to foster positive change. This week in Mali, the Bamako Art Symposium, is taking place, organised in part by the Nka Foundation, an organisation that promotes human capital development through a focus on the arts. There are several other examples that will be profiled on the blog over time as the discussion on art driving change continues.

Our continent is full of rich cultural diversity and art is an integral part of this. It only makes sense then that we should continue this heritage of creativity and apply it to improving ourselves, our communities and our environment.

Image: protest art from South Africa's Apartheid Museum.

Bamako Art Symposium: 22-30 July 2010


Next week, the Bamako Symposium on the Arts:Tapping Local Resources for Sustainable Development in the 21st Century, will be taking place at the University of Mali, Bamako. 

With the practical acts [workshops, exhibitions, performances and other artistic interventions] and theoretical presentations we aim to promote critical dialogues on the best practices around the world on how the arts as resource feed civilizations in hope that we will generate new initiatives to boost human capital development in Mali in the 21st century. Interestingly, the symposium coincides with the celebration of the fifty year of independence of Mali.

We define the arts broadly to include visual arts, literary arts, performing arts, design, new media/film production, arts history, arts criticism, arts education, arts administration and curatorship, and emerging others. We expect about 200 participants from around the world. The working language of the conference will be French and English.

Any lucky attendees, please share how it goes!

Check out the Nka foundation who are behind the event. "Human capital development through focus on the arts." Now that's what I'm talking about!

Humanitarian design and imperialism


Interesting article by Bruce Nussbaum discussing humanitarian design and imperialism.

An excerpt:  
"But should we take a moment now that the movement is gathering speed to ask whether or not American and European designers are collaborating with the right partners, learning from the best local people, and being as sensitive as they might to the colonial legacies of the countries they want to do good in. Do designers need to better see themselves through the eyes of the local professional and business classes who believe their countries are rising as the U.S. and Europe fall and wonder who, in the end, has the right answers? Might Indian, Brazilian and African designers have important design lessons to teach Western designers?"

And a response to his article suggests:

"The worst thing to do patronize low-income earners by succumbing to nationalistic and inward-looking design. Lets keep sharing, exchanging, and working together and enable the best designs to play out, regardless of origin."

Thanks to @whiteafrican for tweeting the links!

Art Moves Africa: grants available!


Calling all African artists and cultural operators living and working in Africa! Art Moves Africa is awarding grants for travel within the continent to participate in residencies, festivals, workshops and more.

1 September (before midnight GMT) : for the travels starting from 1st of November
1 January (before midnight GMT) : for the travels starting from 1st March
1 May (before midnight GMT): for the travels starting from 1st of July

(Art Moves Africa (AMA) is an international none for profit organisation aiming to facilitate cultural and artistic exchanges within the African continent. AMA offers travel funds to artists, arts professionals and cultural operators living and working in Africa to travel within the African continent in order to engage in the exchange of information, the enhancement of skills, the development of informal networks and the pursuit of cooperation.

Not practicing on the continent or not an artist? You too can support the initiative

Malawi independence day


Malawi celebrates its independence day today.

I remember going to an Afrolution event a few years back. The show was totally taken away by Malawi's own MC, Kimba 'chellam' Mutanda. I absolutely love his clever track "Dearest Child" (listen to it on his myspace page). You can read an interview with Kimba on Mmalawi Blog, "the Ultimate Infotainment Directory." Here's a snippet of his lyrical stylings:

I came across another interesting artistic talent from Malawi, Samson Kambalu. You can read more here and here about his thought-provoking interactive installations and experience holyballism for yourself on his website. Kambalu is also author of an autobiographical book, The Jive Talker: Or, How to get a British Passport, one of the Sunday Telegraph's Books of The Year, 2008.

Check out the Lake of Stars Festival in Malawi, this October. An award winning festival, it brings international talents together with local artists and helps to promote the arts, tourism and development in Malawi. This year's line up includes: The Noisettes, Peter Mawanga, Sally Nyundo, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly., Tinashe, Eddy Temple-Morris, John McClure, Afrikan Boy, Goldierocks and more. The festival is powered by volunteers so you can get involved and experience this great event and beautiful lake-side setting.

Image at top: Samson Kambalu signing his Sunny Side Up silkscreen prints, available at the Jealous Print Studio.