Art has great power. It has the power to bring communities together and to allow us to express our deepest emotions in ways words cannot. Ben Summers, a London based artist, traveled to our project in Senya-Beraku in Ghana to create a work of art with the children. This work exhibits how art can transcend culture and help us all connect to one another.
Ben began by telling us about his artistic style and how he applied that to his work in Ghana.
I’m a painter and multimedia artist based in North London. My work is primarily about reflecting on and celebrating communities, in shifting environments whilst linking the work in some way to the present . Then again also, I just really like paint! The idea is to communicate, and the arts are an integral way of doing that. It can dissolve barriers and through collaboration create new important narratives. The piece that was created in Ghana, started as a desire to simply to connect and understand at a most fundamental level.
It was a goal to create a unique piece of artwork with the kids and residents that would be about harnessing their own creativity, whilst working to a loose composition. For the short space of time available, there had to be a kind of guiding structure to how the piece would be realized.
The only idea I really had was that it would be figurative, that it would represent their home and the expansive surroundings, and that we would collectively choose a point of inspiration from the environment. The inspiration for the piece ended up being painted tree stumps that are dotted around the outside of the main foundation. Collectively, after establishing a composition, we basically begun! The room was cleared, and we primed the canvas material directly onto the floor. It was inspiring to see how the kids interpreted using the paint. There was an immediacy, a sense of “we’re going to take an idea and just do it”. Which in many ways can be a struggle in creating work from an adult context. Unfolding it in my studio in North London was a bizarre experience because it was totally out of context. The work had existed so far spread out on the soil in front of the foundation and then in one of the rooms with all of the kids working on it, and it had existed entirely as an extension of their environment, attached to the floor. Revisiting the piece in my studio gave the opportunity to add my part of collaboration, which attempted to recount my own visual and sensory memory of Senya Beraku.
(Image Source: http://bensummersartist.com/portfolio/artaroundthechild/ )
He also discussed the increasing global presence of African art.
There is groundbreaking work coming out of Africa. African artists around the world are getting a huge amount of attention, because they all have incredibly rich and powerful stories behind them, and there’s an enormous amount of creative energy. It seems like very much a narrative of the future. The recognition of the Contemporary African Art Fair in London in the last four years for me shows this, which also has an edition in New York, and a third edition in Morocco, I believe, next year.
The piece created by Ben Summers and the children’s art project created in Ghana was sold at the Art Around the Child auction last November. The event featured art by established and emerging artists, many of whom created works specifically for the event. Ben’s work in particular went to two British Ghanaian entrepreneurs, which was quite a fitting home.
Check out more of Ben’s work here!