Art & Culture

The best galleries, art and theatre in Accra

The Time Out Accra hot list
Things to do

The Time Out Accra hot list

Read on for our guide to the week's coolest events and most interesting venues. If you manage to tick off all ten, head back to our home page for daily updates on the best restaurants, cultural events, nightlife, and whatever else Accra manages to think up before our next Hot List is published on Monday.

Design for life
Art

Design for life

Past an A-Board that reads ‘Accra Redefined’ and up the wooden stairs of an old, somewhat ramshackle 1915 building in Usshertown, two buildings down from the Fort, is a space that is quietly changing lives. At the top of the stairs, the cooling breeze blows through the many wide open windows around the one-roomed gallery. Through the rear window, the Gulf of Guinea, blue and sparkling, darkens to azure on the horizon. Fishing boats bob in the water, a reminder of the industry that still powers the oldest part of Accra. Inside, an exhibition researched by historian Nat Amarteifio, charts the 450-year history of Jamestown: the slave forts, the heady late 1800s alive with department stores and music clubs, the decline of the area starting in the 1920s as the port moved east, the war, independence, and the challenges of 21st century West Africa… it’s a compelling story and one lived out by the residents today in Jamestown.  So what exactly is ArchiAfrika Design & Architecture Gallery? Its genesis was a dream, a philosophy, an idea of how design and architecture, if intelligently implemented, can make a real and lasting impression on the world, on a city, on a neighbourhood. Its chief patron and the driving force is architect Joe Addo who has worked across the world, including a 16-year spell in Los Angeles.  “I got involved with the advocacy of architecture; how we use architecture to get involved with the local community. There was very little discourse about this and I wanted

Accrartist: Poetra Asantewa
Art

Accrartist: Poetra Asantewa

Ama Asantewa Diaka is the CEO of fashion brand, Alikoto Clothing, and greeting card company, Yobbings. She also heads up Love Rock, an NGO aiming to assist youth in becoming active members of their communities. However, it’s her spoken word poetry she’s most well known for. Going by the stage name Poetra Asantewa, she has performed at numerous national and international events in Accra, and is featured in Sandra Krampelhuber’s film “Accra Power”, which was screened at this year’s Chale Wote Street Art Festival.   Tash Morgan-Etty caught up with Poetra after the screening to find out more about her thoughts on the film, and how Accra influences her work. You were featured in “Accra Power” where the filmmaker used you as one of the film’s narrators. How did you get involved, and how do you feel about the outcome of the film? When Sandra came to Ghana last year she approached me and showed me her work “100% Dakar”, which documents artists in Dakar and their work. She said that when she got here she thought it would be a good idea to have a theme like “power” or “Dumsor”, and that was a strange coincidence because the theme for our performance last year was “power”. So, it kind of fused perfectly with what she wanted to do. I asked her about the artists in the film, because I wanted to be sure there was going to be a gender balance in the film. She said that there was a boxer, a dancer, etc. I was quite pleased that. And, so, we did a couple of shoots. I saw the final product

Investing in Ghanaian art
Art

Investing in Ghanaian art

Is now the perfect time to invest in Ghanaian art? 

The mystery of Accra's crime writer
Art

The mystery of Accra's crime writer

All writers have their specialities. Dr Kwei Quartey deals in mysteries, and perhaps the biggest one of all is how a medical practitioner finds the time to write best-selling crime fiction. The Ghana-born California resident, a full-time doctor, has just released the third in his series of Inspector Darko Dawson mystery novels. Titled Murder At Cape Three Points, it sees the detective delving into a controversial but topical area: something the blurb describes as the “greed and corruption of Ghana’s brand new oil industry”.  If you’ve not yet come across Inspector Darko Dawson, here’s a brief introduction. He’s a CID detective in Accra. He has a weakness for marijuana, an anger management problem and a son with a congenital heart defect. He also has a mean eye for crime-solving. In short, he’s the kind of complex central character that every successful detective novel needs. So much so, in fact, that the first Darko Dawson novel, Wife of the Gods, made the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. The second and third in the series have both drawn positive reviews too.  And despite the super-human time management involved in juggling crime-writing and medicine (he gets up very early, apparently), it appears there’s actually a natural symbiosis between the two disciplines. “Oh, sure,” Quartey says, speaking to Time Out Accra from his home in Pasadena. “The detection that you’re doing in medicine is very similar to the work a police detective would do. When you have a patient come

Accra's best art galleries

Nubuke Foundation
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.

Artists Alliance Gallery
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
Loom
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.

Joe’s Perspective Art Boutique
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).

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Music

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Things to do

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The art of death
Art

The art of death

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

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Accra's cultural centres

Goethe-Institut
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
Alliance Française d’Accra
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.

Nubuke Foundation
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.

WEB Du Bois Memorial Centre
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.

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