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Published On: Mon, Sep 1st, 2014

SOUTHBANK CENTRE TO COME ALIVE WITH VISUAL ARTS AND DESIGN FOR AFRICA UTOPIA FESTIVAL

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Following 2012’s first edition, Africa Utopia is back this month; to look at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African Diaspora. Taking place from September 11 – 14, the festival looks at how African art and ideas can change the world for the better and how Africa can lead the way in thinking about culture, community, technology, fashion, sustainability and ethical wealth creation.

Southbank Centre will come alive with video, wall works, photography and design collaborations encompassing a range of practices from craft to digital. Highlights include a digital slideshow projected onto the exterior of Royal Festival Hall consisting of 30 extraordinary photographs from the Hulton Archive of The African Native Choir who toured Britain in 1891-93, including individual portraits of the 16 performers from South Africa, which have never been seen before.  The projection at Africa Utopia is the first in a series of image projection campaigns presented by Autograph ABP as part of their ongoing research project The Missing Chapter, and current The Black Chronicles exhibition, curated by Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy.

Other works across the site will include ‘It Takes A Village’ by Mary Evans; a new wall based installation featuring life-size craft paper figures pasted to the wall in an imagined psychological and geographical space in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Meanwhile, London-based designer Yemi Awosile will present an interactive display of textiles that gives form to the material properties of sound featuring a soundscape by Lagos-based artist Emeka Ogboh.

There will also be a group show of video pieces and sonic experiments by emerging artists working in Africa and the Diaspora by artists from across the Globe conceived and curated by Conceived and developed by Christine Eyene, curator and Guild Research Fellow in Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire. A special exhibition for Africa Utopia, the project draws on the notion of Utopia as a concept allowing the reinvention of African experiences, memories  and narratives both from an individual and collective perspective.

The art of upcycling furniture meets the art of Nigerian parables in an Africa Utopia workshop with Yinka Ilori. Over six hours, how to mesh African fabrics, accessories and postcards with vintage European modernist furniture. Workshops will be accompanied by African-curated DJ sets and a Nigerian ‘talking drum’. There will also be free drop in workshops with Heath Nash, where you can create your own recycled plastic artwork to take home.

Southbank Centre have also commissioned designer Pierre-Christophe Gam, founder of Afro-Polis to create a site-wide graphic identity for Africa Utopia, that will bring to life and visually identify the various spaces where the festival’s talks and events are taking place. The design will create impact and ambience for visitors to the festival and will provide a visually striking, bold and contemporary backdrop for a variety of events.

Visual artists, curators and designers will also be part of the Africa Utopia talks and debates series. Pierre-Christophe will chair ‘Afropolis – New African Aesthetic’ on Sunday 14 September. Renée Mussai from Autograph chairs ‘Re-Imagining Africa’ on Sunday 14 September and artist Mary Evans is on the panel for this discussion. There will also be a discussion on Africa’s urban design story on Sunday 14 September.  With a general focus on Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria and Angola, Charlotte Khatso, a freelance design architect, Paulo Moreira, an architectural researcher and architect, and former Director of the Society of Black Architects Elsie Owusu OBE bring their experiences and points of view to a casual conversation about Africa’s urban spaces and the interconnecting influences of culture, gender, memory and historical and environmental sensitivity. The discussion will be chaired by journalist Nana Ocran.

For more information visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk/africautopia

For Africa Utopia press information please contact:

Nicola Jeffs, Press Manager

Nicola.Jeffs@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0676

Hugo Mintz. Press Officer

Hugo.mintz@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0917

 

FURTHER INFORMATION AND TIMES FOR EACH PROJECT:

 

THE BLACK CHRONICLES PROJECTION

Royal Festival Hall Exterior, Mandela Walkway

11 – 14 September – 19:00pm – 23:00pm each night

This digital slideshow projected onto the exterior of Royal Festival Hall consists of 30 extraordinary photographs from the Hulton Archive of The African Native Choir, who toured Britain in 1891-93. The photographs were taken by the London Stereoscopic Company studios at the end of the 19th century. They include individual portraits of the 16 performers from South Africa, which have never been seen before. The projection at Africa Utopia is the first in a series of image projection campaigns presented by Autograph ABP as part of their ongoing research project The Missing Chapter, and current The Black Chronicles exhibition, curated by Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy. A selection of photographs is also on display in the foyer of Royal Festival Hall.  Autograph ABP is a charity that works internationally in photography, film, cultural identity, race, representation and human rights. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

 

DIGITAL AFRICA: THE FUTURE IS NOW

Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall

11 – 14 September throughout the weekend, 10am – 11pm

An exhibition of video pieces and sonic experiments by emerging artists working in Africa and the Diaspora. Conceived as part of Africa Utopia 2014, this project draws on the notion of Utopia as a concept allowing the reinvention of African experiences, memories  and narratives both from an individual and collective perspective. It also aims at grounding new media arts as a contemporary practice in Africa, and places artistic innovations from the continent in the immediate present.  The artists featured include Nirveda Alleck (Mauritius), Younes Baba-Ali (Morocco/Belgium), Em’Kal Eyongakpa (Cameroon), Cecilia Ferreira (South Africa), Chido Johnson (Zimbabwe/US), and Laura Nsengiyumva (Belgium/Rwanda). Conceived and developed by Christine Eyene, curator and Guild Research Fellow in Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire.

 

MARY EVANS – IT TAKES A VILLAGE….

Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer

Fri 12 Sep 2014–Sun 14 Sep 2014, 10am – 11pm

It takes a village…. is a new wall-based installation featuring life-size craft paper figures pasted to the wall in an imagined psychological and geographical space.  ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is a well known saying in many African cultures, and artist Mary Evans uses the phrase to anchor the piece in an environment that is simultaneously of the continent and of its diaspora. The saying is the kind of proverb that is clung to by Africans in the diaspora as a small vestige of ‘home’ and a utopian ideal from the continent by which to live.  Mary Evans was born in Nigeria in 1963, and lives and works in London.

 

YEMI AWOSILE

ACOUSTIC FABRICS

Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall

11 – 14 September throughout the weekend, 10am – 11pm

London-based designer Yemi Awosile presents an interactive display of textiles that gives form to the material properties of sound.  This new installation explores the visceral connection between the physical way in which a piece of cloth is constructed and the means by which technology is crafted. Featuring a soundscape by Lagos-based artist Emeka Ogboh, it demonstrates how both materials and technology have the ability to transcend international borders and express an innate sense of closeness even across vast distances.

Born in 1984, Yemi Awosile is a designer living and working in London. Her studio focuses on the design and development of textiles and surfaces informed by an interest in social culture and a passion for materials and processes. The broader scope of her practice involves working with the public in a variety of ways.

 

UPCYCLING CHAIR WORKSHOP: THE ART OF STORY TELLING

Sunday 14 September 2014, 10.30am – 4pm,  Sunley Pavilion, Royal Festival Hall, £30

 

The art of upcycling furniture meets the art of Nigerian parables in a workshop with Yinka Ilori. Over six hours, learn how to mesh African fabrics, accessories and postcards with vintage European modernist furniture. Upcycle your own chair accompanied by African-curated DJ sets and a Nigerian ‘talking drum’ and leave with furniture inspired by a Nigerian parable. Towards the end of the workshop, participants can present their work to the class. Attendees may also be chosen to take part in an exhibition featuring the work of past participants, curated by Yinka Ilori.  Artist and furniture designer Yinka Ilori has held live upcycling workshops for Milan Design Week, at the Old Shoreditch Station and at his studio in Clapton. Beginners welcome. Tools and African-inspired fabric provided. Please bring your own vintage chair and wear clothes suitable to work in and please bring water-based paint and water-based primer, suitable for painting furniture, if you would like to paint your chair and participants are welcome to bring fabric to upholster the chair.

AFRICA CALLING: CONTEMPORARY DESIGN SHOWCASE

Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall

11 – 14 September throughout the weekend, 10am – 11pm

Africa Calling is curated by Kathy Shenoy (Shake the Dust) and Liezel Strauss (Subject Matter Art), and highlights the work of new and established designers from Africa and the Diaspora who are challenging ‘African Aesthetics’ and exploring new collaborations and cross-cultural connections.  This showcase focuses on designers, artists and collaborations from Africa’s southern tip and the UK, and includes a specially commissioned collaboration between upcycled furniture designer Yinka Ilori (UK/Nigeria) and knitwear designer Laduma Nxgokolo (South Africa).  Other exhibits include work by graphic artist Lakwena Maciver (UK/Uganda), the woven vessels of fair trade artisan co-operative Gone Rural (Swaziland), spectacular recycled plastic lights by Heath Nash (South Africa), and nature-inspired wallpaper by Clinton Friedman (South Africa). 

AFRICA CALLING:  DROP-IN WORKSHOPS WITH HEATH NASH

Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 September

Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall, see www.southbankcentre.co.uk for times.

Heath Nash is an award-winning product designer from South Africa, who has pioneered the use of recycled plastics in design, creating cutting-edge installations, lights and high-end homeware products. He also works with local communities in Cape Town to spread his innovative approach. Join Heath for a series of drop-in sessions where you can create your own recycled plastic artwork to take home.  Materials and tools will be provided and the event is for ages 8 and upward (under 16s must be accompanied by an adult)

Southbank Centre Ticket Officewww.southbankcentre.co.uk / 0844 847 9910

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk

Africa Utopia TV media partners for 2014 are the Africa Channel.  The Africa Channel broadcasts award winning television inspired by Africa, available on Sky 209 and Virginmedia 828.

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