Contemporary Artists' Talk Series: Artists Arthur Timothy and Hassan Aliyu in conversation with Dr Kadija George

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5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
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About this event

This event is an In Conversation between Artists Arthur Timothy and Hassan Aliyu and moderated by Dr. Kadija George

Gallery 1957 London, is proud to announce an exhibition of new works from artist Arthur Timothy (b. 1957, Ghana) based on memories and photographs of Sierra Leone. Titled Postcards from a Promised Land, the exhibition surveys the people, architecture, and natural beauty of Sierra Leone, against a wider backdrop of the nation’s history and hopes.

The exhibition is accompanied by a text from literary activist, editor and publisher Kadija George Sesay, who comments: ‘Memories of aunties, sisters and cousins beam through the portraits of children of extended family members in Postcards from a Promised Land, whilst the varied textures, tones and structures in his landscapes also embody poignant remembrances for Timothy. For me, much is centred on what I see as the heart of the collection, the triptych Isabella's Head Start (LAKKA). Here Timothy paints his family playing along a long sandy beach around the peninsula in Western Sierra Leone, close to Freetown. Straying from his previous portraiture imagery, Timothy presents beaches that are deserted, quiet, and peaceful, allowing for a moment of reflection. The work is based on a memory of a family race in Lakka, whereby everyone was given a head start according to their age, and Isabella, the youngest, was given a large one; Arthur wanted to win, and everyone overtook Isabella, who then burst into tears. This prominent memory truly captures sorrows and triumphs and the enduring essence of family, which runs throughout the series, as well as the artist’s joy in revisiting the ravenous beauty of Sierra Leone.’

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About the speakers

Arthur Timothy (b. 1957, Accra, Ghana) is an artist and architect who lives and works in London and Bath. He spent his early childhood in Freetown, Sierra Leone. His artwork has been exhibited at the Royal Academy (London), Ronchini Gallery (London) and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery (online). It is part of important international collections, including the permanent collection of ICA Miami. Timothy’s recent work Brothers, 2020 was exhibited in ICA Miami’s first major exhibition to showcase its permanent collection, with a focus on recent acquisitions, entitled Fire Figure Fantasy: Selections from ICA Miami’s Collection. His most recent solo exhibition Grandma’s Hands (2021) was co-curated by writer, journalist, broadcaster, and curator, Ekow Eshun, and was exhibited at Gallery 1957, in Accra. Timothy studied Architecture at the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield and the work of his architectural studio has been widely published and exhibited.

Dr. Kadija George Sesay, Hon. FRSL, FRSA, is a literary activist of Sierra Leonean descent, who works in literary project management and creative professional development. From 2001 - 2015 she published SABLE LitMag, a black and white magazine for emerging writers of colour. She has curated a series of anthologies, including GLIMPSE: the first anthology of Speculative Fiction by Black British Writers (2022). She co-founded the Mboka Festival of Arts, Culture and Sport in The Gambia and is founded AfriPoeTree, a Selective Interactive Video of Poetry and Pan-African history. She has also written poetry for arts projects, The John Blanke Project and The World Reimagined. She received an AHRC / TECHNE fellowship to undertake doctoral research in Black British Publishing and Pan-Africanism at Brighton University and then an Early Career Fellowship at the School of Advanced Studies in Inclusion, Participation and Engagement, developing her research ideas further. She is an award recipient for her work in the creative arts, namely, Cosmopolitan Woman of Achievement, Candice magazine Woman of Achievement, Voice Newspaper Award for work in the Creative Arts, a Woman of the Millennium, STARS of Sierra Leone Award (for outstanding women of achievement), Recipient of LBA (Leeds Black Award – Arts Category). She is a Kennedy Center Fellow in Performing Arts Management and a Kluge Fellow (The Library of Congress). She received an MBE for services to Literature.

Hassan Aliyu is a British / Nigerian artist whose large-scale collaged paintings are centred on the African diaspora experience of racism and othering. His practice explores issues connected to socio-economic destabilisation and anti-blackness —legacies of enslavement and colonialism. Aliyu’s technique of working in recyclables attributes to the embargo on the importation of art material during Nigeria’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 1980s when he undertook undergraduate studies at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. The colourful packaging of ‘essential commodities’, a term that encapsulated consumer products from conglomerates including Tate & Lyle, Nestle, Cadburys, Lever Brothers, AG Leventis, and several colonial era European monopolies provided the alternative pigment as well as the theoretical and thematic context for his practice in the years to come. Aliyu’s work is included in the “Legacies of Biafra” touring exhibition, curated by Dr. Louisa Egbunike, shown at Brunei Gallery London in 2018 and subsequently at Gallery Oldham in 2022. Among his curatorial projects includes ‘The Bigger Picture’, which was recently displayed at the 198 Gallery London. Featuring paintings and multimedia installations by the radical African American Artist, Ben F. Jones, this show as an important sequel to Jones debut UK exhibition entitled “In the Spirit” which Aliyu curated in 1994. A Professional Doctorate researcher in Fine Art at the University of East London, Aliyu is the incumbent president of the Nigeria Art Society UK. He works from his studios in Rainham Essex where he also operates a private gallery.

Postcards from a Promised Land' at Gallery 1957, in London from 8 December 2022 until 28 January 2023.

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