Celebrating the Textile Heritage of West Africa
‘Style Africa’ opens at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Students from the Department of African Studies and Anthropology have been working, under the auspices of BMAG and in partnership with the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD) at Birmingham City University and the Drum Arts Centre to create new ways to present the significant West African textile collection from our museum collection and Craftspace.
A fascinating new exhibition exploring the rich heritage of West African textiles opens at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 31 March 2012. Style Africa presents visitors with the changing traditions of woven, embroidered, printed and dyed clothing and textiles from West Africa, focussing on some of the most beautiful textiles produced from the early 20th century to 2011.
Style Africa is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Young Roots programme. It is created in partnership with Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD) at Birmingham City University (BCU), the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham and the Drum Arts Centre. Through these organisations, young people were invited to collaborate with the expert curators from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to create new ways to present the significant West African textile collection from the museum, the University of Birmingham and Craftspace.
Curator of World Cultures at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Adam Jaffer comments, “Style Africa is a unique exhibition, presenting some of the region’s most beautiful and diverse traditional and contemporary West African textiles. The project has provided us with an opportunity to engage young people and Birmingham’s diverse communities, and showcase the incredible textile heritage of English-speaking West Africa, particularly Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.”
The exhibition explores the traditional and contemporary textiles and clothing which form an essential part of West African culture. Using kente cloth, adinkra cloth, adire cloth (tie and dye), aso oke, as well as wax print cloth collected in Ghana in 2011, Style Africa focuses on different textile techniques and the ways in which clothing can communicate identity and individual style. The exhibition also includes contemporary outfits designed in the UK and made using West African prints.
Style Africa is part of the London 2012 Inspire programme which recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are directly inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Style Africa is free to visit and open daily from 31 March 2012 to 2 September 2012.
For more information, visit www.bmag.org.uk/events?id=1797
Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (BMAG) is the largest city museums service in England. It comprises Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and five Community Museums: Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, and Soho House. For more information visit www.bmag.org.uk
Birmingham Museums Limited (BML) has been established to govern and manage the museums buildings and collections owned by Birmingham City Council and Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum and to sustain and develop key partnerships to deliver high quality, audience focussed museum services, which meet the needs of Birmingham communities and the regions.
About Birmingham City University
Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), part of Birmingham City University (BCU) is a major provider of practice-based textile courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Undergraduates at BIAD work directly with textiles and clothing and develop their technical skills during their degree. www.bcu.ac.uk
About the Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham
The Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA), part of the University of Birmingham is an internationally recognised institution for teaching and research. It is the only U.K. university department to concentrate specifically on West Africa. www.birmingham.ac.uk/cwas
About Drum Arts Centre
The Drum Arts Centre, based in Aston, promotes contemporary African and African-Caribbean arts and culture. The Drum has a series of youth-led programmes which develop the skills of young people through engagement with the arts. www.the-drum.org.uk/
Aside from the Craft Council, Craftspace the only independent crafts promotion, development and touring agency in the country and as such occupies a unique position in the national infrastructure for the contemporary crafts. www.craftspace.co.uk