This past September 5th, a mind-blowing art space was inaugurated in the city of Tamale. The internationally known Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama has extended the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art – opened last year – with the Red Clay studio.
With interest in architecture, urban materials, history and politics, Ibrahim Mahama is acclaimed for his large scale installations and performances around the world. He has recently been selected to represent his country at the Sydney and Venice Bienniale.
Based between Accra, Kumasi and his hometown Tamale, the artist not only wants to create but also desires to transform the contemporary art scene in Ghana.
Last year he founded the SCCA, The Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, bringing a cultural space to the local people.
Much more than just a gallery, the SCCA is an artist-run project space, exhibition and research hub, cultural repository and artists’ residency. It gives opportunity to locals to experience art, a creation space to artists, showcases different generations and acknowledges the evolution of art in Ghana.
This year, in the middle of a pandemic, Ibrahim Mahama brings hope with the opening of a new space: Red Clay Studio. Again, the space named after the burnt-umber earth of northern Ghana, is not only an artist studio. The vast complex wants to connect communities with convertible rooms indoors and outdoors, allowing screenings, meetings, workshops, and creating.
The aim of the cultural institution is to elevate minds by bringing a critical discourse through curation, publications and diverse activities.
For the opening, Red Clay Studio welcomes a retrospective of Ghanaian artist Agyeman Ossei ‘Dota’: Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace, co-curated by Adwoa Amoah, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh and Tracy Naa Koshie Thompson.
But at its very heart, Red Clay also hides a piece of art by Mr. Mahama himself: The Parliament of Ghosts.
Originally shown as an installation at the Whitworth Art Gallery, as part of Manchester International Festival (2019), The Parliament of Ghosts is an important structure taking the form of a parliamentary chamber. For the artist in this place, past, present and future are in conversation ; “a site for dialogue and debate, taking historical failures as a starting point for the creation of new ideals, value systems and economic change”.
Finally, another unexpected curiosity: outside SCCA and Red Clay… A series of planes collected by Ibrahim Mahama. Brought to Tamale by the road, they transformed as discovery spaces and the seats will serve the cinema room.
We’re ready to fasten our seat belts! Definitely a great initiative and a place that is worth a visit!
Discover the process of building The Parliament of Ghosts through the video ‘How to Build a Parliament with a literal pool of ideas’ by Ibrahim Mahama:
Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art
SNNIT Junction, adjacent St. John of the Cross School