From Bronze to Gold Exhibition

From Bronze to Gold Exhibition

Better than Good present From Bronze to Gold Exhibition 13th – 30th October 2011

Ever since the departure of the Benin bronzes and other works of art from the Yoruba people and the pivotal historical event that took place in 1887, that saw the introduction of African art into the European psyche; an on-going bitter and often controversial debate of cultural identity has ensued. We have come to understand the importance of the influences that these artefacts have had on western art and European thinking. The richness of these unique objects of terracotta, bronze and ivory have become as precious as gold in the hands of their abductors.

But what of the influence, impact, value and meaning, that these artworks have had on those who are still culturally and religiously aligned? What are the views of artists and activists of the Diaspora, what are their stories, associations and remembrances of these great works?

‘From Bronze to Gold’ presents the views, stories and thoughts of four artists that explore these intriguing works which have captured the imagination of the world.

Forerunner of the Black British arts movement ‘Fowokan’ George Kelly and leading artists Alvin Kofi, Ken McCalla, Jennifer Lewis and Eli Anderson document their own relationships to these works and present the story of those individuals who have never stood up and voiced their views. They will exhibit sculpture and words that represent the spirit of those original artefacts, using modern materials, paintings, lino cut prints and digital media which borrow from the traditional style of the Benin plaques.

This exhibition promises to be revealing, thought provoking, exciting and wonderfully bold, leaning on the legacy of works of art from the ancient Kingdom of Benin.

Storytelling & mask making family workshop Saturday 22 October 2011, 1.00 – 3.00pm Discover West Africa through a mystical tale. Storyteller and poet Eli Anderson weaves imagination and games into his interactive stories. Artist Alvin Kofi and Ken McCalla give a short guided tour of the exhibition From Bronze to Gold and lead this family art workshop, inspiring you to be creative. Using a mix of different materials you will decorate masks and make treasures for Kings and Queens. Suitable for children 5 – 12 year’s old who must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Free entry (Limited spaces – Booking essential @ Rich Mix Box Office 020 7613 7498)

Artist Workshop: ‘In conversation with’ Spoken word special performance Sunday 30 October 2011, 12.00 – 3.00pm The artists take the audience on a journey sharing their own discoveries. They integrate the accepted historical records and present an alternative narrative behind the artefacts. Entry £8.00 adv/cons £5.00 (Tickets available from Rich Mix Box Office 020 7613 7498)

Rich Mix 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road London E1 6LA

About the Artists

Fowokan George Kelly Born in Kingston Jamaica on 1 April 1943 Kelly exhibits under the name Fowokan (a Yoruba word meaning, one who creates with the hand). He is mainly self-taught and has been a practising sculptor working in the figurative tradition since the late 1970s. Coming to the visual arts late in life Fowokan deliberately chose not to be trained in western art institutions as he felt they could not teach him what he wanted to know. The philosophical aspect of his work came through a deep intuition and travels through various parts of Africa, exploring the spiritual side of his ancestral/ spiritual home; this was his art school and university. Fowokan has received commissions to produce works for the South Bank Spring Festival, Marcus Garvey Centenary celebrations and the African People’s Historical Monument Foundation. He has exhibited at the Studio Museum Harlem, the British Museum and the Royal Academy, London. His sculptures are in collections such as the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Harvard University, the University of the West Indies, Unilever and Marcus Garvey Park, as well as in private collections in various parts of the world.

Alvin Kofi Alvin Kofi lives and works in London and has established a reputation as one of the leading Black artists in the UK. His work spans the different arts media, with his love for the human form always dominant. He created the first Black print collection to be distributed in the UK, and has exhibited in the US, Caribbean, Europe, presenting his work in numerous one man shows and collaborations. His unique style of expression – the use of line, a restricted colour palette, and bold, dynamic portrayal of movement linked to a strong narrative – is displayed in simple compositions, but the intensity with which he manipulates his medium undoubtedly captures the viewer. The subject matter and theme of his work has varied over the years, but the tradition of Africa has always been a constant. An avid historian, Alvin’s latest collection continues to fuel and motivate his passion for producing art.

Jennifer Lewis Jennifer is a painter, sculptor and ceramicist she has exhibited in England, the Caribbean and Africa. Her work can be found in many public and private collections, she has outdoor sculptures in Altnegelvin Hospital in Ireland, Dulwich Park London and Good Mays Hospital in Ilford. Jennifer is currently resident in St Vincent where she is part of a pottery programme whose aim is to rebuild and revive the pottery industry on the island and raise the profile of Vincentian artists internationally. Jennifer is currently illustrating a children’s book, designing a casing for a compact sound system and working on collection of ceramic water jugs and ceramic water filters.

Ken McCalla Graduated from Art school in 1980’s London, he is currently retraining & self teaching himself a context for his art. Ken has produced art works in a wide range of mediums over the past 25 years, from theatre set designs to potato printing. In whatever tool he uses, his skill in visual communication has opened and excited the viewer in ideas based on energies uniting. Drawing on his rich cultural heritage, his art work explores his personal growth, questions relationships & celebrates harmony.

Eli Anderson Eli Anderson has been writing for over thirty years and has been involved in publishing two books with accomplished artists. He has developed his craft as a performance poet and storyteller for over 25 years. He arranged and delivered a variety of workshops: mentoring performers in performance craft, musicianship and general presentation. Having spent some time working in recording studios, a variety of Bands and Orchestras as a clarinettist and saxophonist: Choirs and comic operas as a baritone, he continued to develop this passion with children & young people. Eli’s passion as a storyteller & poet he believes will lead to a deeper spiritual and positive involvement in the performing arts.

For more information on workshop or talks contact alvin Kofi on 07943437619 or Clem Richards on 07802486191 or email

Alexandra Galleries