School of Art
Sankofa — Ceramic Tales from Africa
Ceramics Gallery, Aberystwyth Arts CentreManchester Museum 1 April – 2 July 2006
Ceramics Gallery, Aberystwyth 15 July – 30 September 2006
The exhibition, Sankofa, Ceramic Tales from Africa came out of a collaborative project between Moira Vincentelli, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Curator of Ceramics at UWA and staff from Manchester Museum (University of Manchester). With funding from a travel grant from the British Academy, Vincentelli undertook field trips to Tunisia, Morocco, Ghana and South Africa to collect and document contemporary ceramics on behalf of the museum.
Sankofa is a word from the Twi language of West Africa that means "learning from the past to move forward to the future" and is represented by a mythic bird with its head turning backwards. The exhibition examined the way contemporary ceramics draw on older traditions to shape new directions and one of the works in the show is a Sankofa bird from Ghana. Some of the pieces collected were up-dated versions of examples in Manchester Museum acquired in the early 20th century. There were also a number of exciting new pieces for Aberystwyth to add to some of the fine examples already in the collection.
One of the exhibitors in the show was Helga Gamboa, a ceramic artist originally from Angola and currently studying for a PhD at the School of Art. Her beautiful and provocative vessels address issues of colonial and postcolonial Angola mixing indigenous Angolan ceramic techniques with photographic imagery on the tin-glaze favoured by Portuguese colonisers.
The exhibition catalogue is in the form of a DVD with video interviews with Moira Vincentelli and Helga Gamboa along with a catalogue of all the works in the show and an extensive photographic record of the field trip. The video is available from Manchester Museum, price £5.00.