Black & White - Creative Origins
19.09.2010 - 26.09.2010
5 Burrell Street, Borough
London SE1 0UL
"A unique blend of culture. I like the set-up and I think exhibitions like this should have more exposure. Simply beautiful - keep it up!"
Obviously colour, material and shape preferences also largely depend on the availability of raw materials, tools and manufacturing expertise as well as specific daily needs, especially when it comes to functional objects. But none of this explains how it is possible that a British born and British university trained designer of African or African-Caribbean descent comes up with almost identical choices in colour, pattern and shape as the rural craftsman or -woman in a remote corner of an African or Caribbean country, who have never been to any of the Western world countries, do not understand any of our languages and have no means of accessing modern communication technologies.
It is a truly fascinating question, why a British artist/designer of African-Caribbean origin creates a very distinct pattern in a very specific colour, the equivalent of which has been used for centuries by a West African people, whose ancestors were once seafaring fishermen using these signs as methods of navigation. And although the significance of these patterns has long been forgotten even by their own people as colonial frontiers have barred their access to the sea and although the pattern is not a generally well known ethnic design in the Western World, it has miraculously found its way into the design language of someone, who has never been to these parts of Africa and never met any of these craftsmen. This raises another question, i.e. if and to what extent a Western world higher academic education can influence, shape, manipulate or – in the worst case scenario - even destroy indigenous creativity based on individual origins and turn it into what is commonly described as ‘global interface’ devoid of any cultural identity and heritage.
From a commercial point of view, especially in view of the still prevailing fashion to create within the visual boundaries of this ‘global interface’, could creative identity based on cultural origins add the distinct design value for positive product differentiation in the international marketplace?
Finally, could any such specific indigenous creativity inherent in all human beings irrespective of informal or formal education or training, geographical location or social background be harnessed to provide income earning work for individuals and groups of people, who are presently excluded from well paid for jobs because their abilities do not meet the professional requirements of mainstream employment?
The present exhibition puts outstandingly beautiful masterpieces with distinct cultural identities from African and African-Caribbean craftsmen and -women, who have never gone through any formal western world professional education, alongside the inspired creative work of university trained artists and designers from the same ethnic origins.
It is left to the viewer to seek and find potential similarities in the creative content and quality of traditional skill based and trained indigenous craftsmanship as opposed to the innovative research and development of Western world higher academic institutions in the creative disciplines.