Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Gallery 1957 presents Arthur Timothy: Grandma’s Hands in Accra

Arthur Timothy Grandma’s Hands Gallery II space, Accra August 28 – October 1 2021

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Gallery 1957, Ghana is proud to announce a solo exhibition of new works from British painter Arthur Timothy, marking his debut in the country of his birth. 

Born to Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian parents in Accra in 1957 – the year Ghana gained independence from colonial rule – Arthur Timothy is an artist and architect, whose artworks depict close family members and autobiographical events, specifically in Accra, where the artist was born, and Freetown, where he lived until the age of 9. His large-scale oil paintings are inspired by an archive of black and white photographs – found amongst his father’s papers – which he brings to life with vibrant colour, from both memory and imagination.

Co-curated by Ekow Eshun, the works on show are a result of Timothy’s recent re-examining of the post-colonial African life that informed his early years. In fresh washes of colour, Timothy’s found photographs (kept unmarked in a trunk amongst his late father’s papers) are transformed into lush paintings which marry the personal and the political, encouraging considered and nuanced responses to moments frozen in time. Multi-layered and complex – some are underpinned by memory, whilst others are lost to the sands of time. The paintings depict moments in the lives of the Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean sides of his family. His father Bankole Timothy was from Sierra Leone, and his mother Adeline Dove – a daughter of the distinguished barrister Francis (Frans) Dove – was from Accra, Ghana.

In paintings such as The Journalist (2021) we peer into family life, with Timothy’s late father shown at work for Ghana’s leading Daily Graphic paper. Initially a friend of Kwame Nkrumah – Ghana’s first president – Timothy’s father bore witness to many important political moments, some of which are depicted in works including The Witness and Rubicon (both 2021). In Delegation (2021) the viewer is introduced to Kwame Nkrumah’s first political cabinet. Amongst figures including Kojo Botsio, K.A. Gbedemah, A. Caseley-Hayford, T. Hutton-Mills dressed in traditional Kente cloth, are British delegates from the House of Commons, dressed in top hats and tails.

Other works depict life after the family left Ghana. Following his outspoken journalistic criticism of Nkrumah’s political decision-making in an article entitled “What Next Kwame?”, Timothy’s father was deported, and the family returned to Sierra Leone. In works such as 11 Earl Street and Mischief (both 2021) we glimpse post-deportation family life at his grandmother’s house in Freetown. On his mother Adeline Dove’s side of the family, the paintings depict Adeline and some of her sisters. Mabel Dove (2021) presents Timothy’s aunt Mabel Dove Danquah, a prominent writer, journalist and political activist and pioneering Ghanaian feminist on the steps of the Ghanaian Embassy in London. Alongside this is Evelyn Dove (2021), depicting Mabel’s sister, herself a well-known singer and actress, and Eileen Dove and her family.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue including texts from curator and broadcaster
Ekow Eshun. Grandma’s Hands will be on view from August 21 through October 1, 2021.

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