Art & Culture

The best galleries, art and theatre in Accra

Things to do

Asante Treasures: Ghanaian goldweights

From the scales of a 19th-century Asante kingdom chief to a greasy spoon café in Peckham in 2010 is a remarkable journey for a brass goldweight to make. Measuring 2cm x 1.5cm x 1cm, the rectangular cuboid has an abstract pattern that vaguely suggests the sacred Asante Stool. It is embellished with few other decorative qualities. Yet imbued within the scarred metal and finger-worn edges is a story: the power of an Asante chief, decades of turbulent war with the British, a journey through the scrubland of Ghana, a flight to England and, most recently, a trip to a café in Peckham. Partly responsible for the voyage of the artefact is Tom Phillips, a distinguished painter, sculptor, composer, author and avid Ghanaian goldweight collector. Speaking a day before travelling to Berlin to launch his book African Goldweights, he explains the attraction of the weights. “I think they are beautiful objects,” he enthuses over a plate of liver, chips and beans. “They are incredibly delicate, and made using a forgotten method with beeswax. You try making them – it is very complicated”. Although the one now in my hand has a relatively simple design, the weights that were used to weigh gold-dust currency between the 15th and 19th centuries in the Asante Kingdom (and among other parts of the Akan entholinguistic group) come in a vast variety of different styles. The Asante region might have been restricted to West Africa, but a clear Muslim influence can be seen on early designs from the 16t

Read more

Accra's best art galleries

Museums

Nubuke Foundation

The Nubuke Foundation has been in this, its first permanent location, since 2009. In this pleasant building in East Legon is one of the most interesting art galleries in the city. It was set up to provide an artistic space for Ghanaian artists (often in collaboration with artists from other countries) and show off their talents. It has also a philanthropic aim to support artisans around the country. One successful project was with kente cloth weavers in Tsiame, in the Volta Region, teaching them how to make more commercially appealing cloth (tableware and bedding for example) as well as improving techniques such as colour fastening. The results, available at its shop, are beautiful pieces of work (between GH¢100-600 for two yards). Its vibrant cultural offering includes poetry evenings, Saturday workshops, art walks, film and music. Keep an eye on the website for details.

Read more
Art

Artists Alliance Gallery

This three-storey gallery is home to a large array of Ghanaian artists and sculptors such as Augustine Gokah, Betty Acquah, Nii T Mills, Ebenezer Borlabie, Kofi Setorji and Gabriel Eklou. Ablade Glover (see interveiw on page 4), one of Ghana’s most respected artists, conceived the Artists Alliance Gallery in the 1960s. He saw the need for a showcase for fine arts in Ghana to act as a driving force to gain recognition around the world. There are not only contemporary arts, but also collectors’ pieces: beautiful, fragile Asafo flags with appliquéd and embroidered symbols, and ancient strip-woven kente cloths. It sells art directly from the artist.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Read more
Art

Loom

Loom’s Frances Ademola has a popular gallery that exhibits paintings and sculptures by a good selection of Ghana’s foremost artists, with a smattering of expressive Nigerian pieces. The modest space has been here since 1969, and is bursting at the seams with the work of nearly 100 artists. If Ademola is around, she’s delightful company, chatting exuberantly about artists such as Seth and Serge Clottey and Gabriel Eklou, and happily offering her great knowledge of the Ghanaian art scene, past and present. Loom is regarded as one of Ghana’s premier galleries.

Read more
Shopping

Joe’s Perspective Art Boutique

This luxury art boutique set up by Kukua Ampah has recently opened a branch at the new Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel. Many of the elegant and creative pieces here are bespoke and adapted by Kukua. Modern works of art incorporating the rich cultural influences of West Africa are created, customised and commissioned by Kukua’s clients. A key range is the elegant metal flowing sculptures, partly polished, partly left to gather the natural colours of metal. Beautiful. This is the place for the classiest souvenir. Other location Labadi Beach Hotel. Open 8.30am-9pm Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri; 10am-8pm Wed; 8.30am-7pm Sat; noon-6pm Sun (0204 311 126).

Read more
See more art galleries in Accra

Latest art and culture features

Music

From highlife to hiplife

Accra is one of Africa's leading musical cities - and the spiritual home of a style that's been taking over the world in recent years: African highlife

Read more
Things to do

Best art galleries in Accra

From colourful caskets to classic watercolours

Read more

Bizarre buildings

Accra's architecture: the good, the bad and the downright strange

Read more

African art

Time Out's slideshow of art and crafts to see in museums and galleries across Accra

Read more
Art

The art of death

An inside look at Accra's iconic fantasy coffin art - as practised by the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop

Read more
Read more art and culture features

Accra's cultural centres

Things to do

Goethe-Institut

The Goethe-Institut is the German cultural centre and celebrates 50 years of being in Ghana. It has an impressive array of events and art exhibitions. Links between German art and that of Ghana are given precedence, whether through sound installations, mixed media pieces, performance art, photography or painting. It also occasionally lends its venue to the National Film and Television Institute next door. Be sure to check the website or pick up a programme of events when you are in town.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Read more
Things to do

Alliance Française d’Accra

The Accra-based arm of the French cultural centre offers a large range of artistic activities every week. It particularly excels in live music events, but there are also regular art displays and talks from international artists. The obvious focus is on French and Ghanaian artists (often working together), which forms an artistic bridge between both cultures in terms of language, education and artistic programming. Recent shows have included the film screening and photography exhibition from Sublime World Productions’ project Sounds from Ghana, and artistic exhibition Les Jardins de la Francophonie featuring five francophone West African artists: Samuel Tete-kathan, Kassy, Edem Gota, Yao Sewonou and Salifou Oura. There is always something interesting on; be sure to look at the website before any visit to Accra.

Read more
Museums

Nubuke Foundation

The Nubuke Foundation has been in this, its first permanent location, since 2009. In this pleasant building in East Legon is one of the most interesting art galleries in the city. It was set up to provide an artistic space for Ghanaian artists (often in collaboration with artists from other countries) and show off their talents. It has also a philanthropic aim to support artisans around the country. One successful project was with kente cloth weavers in Tsiame, in the Volta Region, teaching them how to make more commercially appealing cloth (tableware and bedding for example) as well as improving techniques such as colour fastening. The results, available at its shop, are beautiful pieces of work (between GH¢100-600 for two yards). Its vibrant cultural offering includes poetry evenings, Saturday workshops, art walks, film and music. Keep an eye on the website for details.

Read more
Attractions

WEB Du Bois Memorial Centre

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an African-American civil rights activist who became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. He was known as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. The centre, where he and his wife once lived, and where they are now buried, houses his personal library, a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes. The couple’s mausoleum is surrounded by Asante stools, a seminar room, a restaurant, a gallery, an amphitheatre and a research centre for Pan-African history and culture.

Read more
See more attractions in Accra