Lecture and Event Programme list

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David Bradnum and Ben Young- Installation: Up/Down; Falling Water

A work by musician composer David Bradnum and film maker/sound designer Ben Young.

An installation distilled from their years of field work in Africa.

– Presented on the opening preview, 5th Sept

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Roberto Gnisci – African Bronzes from the Delta region

An exploration of the Archaeology of African Alloys (Interior Niger Delta) with a particular focus on the Guimbelà, Niafunkè and Dogon communities from 14th – 19th centuries and introducing the new section dealing with Ashanti terracottas found in Bura dating to the first immigration from Ghana in the 10th to 11th centuries.

– Wednesday 6th Sept 3pm

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David Malik- ‘Play with the Devil’ Performance, Politics, and Secrecy of Contemporary Urban Masquerade in Freetown, Sierra Leone

This lecture will discuss some of the Yoruba-modelled urban organisations active in the highly contested socio-political landscape of Freetown and will explore their spectacular public masquerade performances.

The theme of urban masquerade is one the key focus points of my PhD research project I am doing in collaboration with SOAS University of London and the Victoria & Albert Museum, which is positioned as part of a new approach in understanding trajectories of contemporary urban African art and design in their various art worlds; both local, regional and intercontinental. Over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to spend time doing fieldwork in Sierra Leone and this has been instrumental in developing my understanding of some of these fascinating and innovative traditions.

– Thursday 7th Sept 3pm

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Wylda Bayron- Body adornment in contemporary Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is the world’s most culturally diverse nation, containing over 800 unique languages and tribal groups.

Wylda Bayrón spent 18 months on a solo journey through Papua New Guinea photographing the “bilas” (body adornment and traditional dress) of each of the 22 provinces. She has witnessed and documented initiations and rites rarely accessible to most, all done with the support of the respective tribes, for a grassroots preservation project.

She will discuss the connection between “bilas” and the environment, how it’s being affected by modern times and will showcase work from her unique photographic archives of contemporary Papua New Guinea.

Wylda is currently working on a book and traveling exhibition about her journey in the land of the unexpected.

– Friday 8th Sept 3pm

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Jessica Phillips-Fading Bloodlines

The Tattooed Women Of Myanmar – Jessica Phillips shares her latest expedition to  Chin & Rakhine States to document the last of the tattooed faced women. Her team (Robin Brooks, George Kourounis) traveled into this remote region of Myanmar, an area where no post-colonial government surveys or mapping has taken place. These time-locked states house small populations of these tattooed women who’s lives were once threatened to the point that this cultural tradition of facial tattooing is literally a couple decades from extinction.

– Sat 9th Sept 12pm

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Martin Poole ‘TATTOOING IN BRITAIN: WAS IT TRIBAL, IS IT NOW, AND COULD IT EVER BE?’

There has been tattooing in the British Isles for more than 2000 years, and although the record of its history is very patchy, its practice may have been continuous throughout that period.  When first referred to, it was certainly a tribal practice going on in a tribal society.  How long did the tribal component of tattooing survive?  By looking at the technique, the society that produced it, the subject matter, and the purpose or motivation to get tattooed (as far as any of these can be discovered), Martin comes to the view that elements of tribal tattooing are with us now, and have been for centuries, even if not throughout 2 millennia.

Reference to the first contact between explorers and tattooed indigenous people; a look at urban tribes in the 20th century; and the dominance of ‘tribal’ tattoo styles as part of the recent rapid growth of tattooing.  All point to there being something tribal in the practice still.

Martin is a hand-poker, and will place the technique used within the family of handworked tattooing techniques worldwide.  Also he will address the reasons why hand-poking is making a slow comeback.

However, amidst the welter of tattooing now being done, it is a very small part indeed, and it is hard to see how the strengthening of tribal characteristics (and therefore also a distinctive British identity to tattooing) can easily be achieved when the world is shrinking and the cross-fertilisation of ideas continues apace. Consumerisation and homogenisation also work against it.  Even so, Martin suggests one or two avenues that could be explored.

– Sat 9th Sept 2pm

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A Fishing Party. Natives of Angau [Gau], Feejee. Drawing by James Glen Wilson, 154. 20.0 x 24.0cm (Private collection, photo by Michael Row).

Karen Jacobs – Tatau to tattoo: marking the skin in the Pacific

Impregnating the skin with ink, tattooing transforms the body into a canvas for images. From the late eighteenth century, European mariners, mutineers and beachcombers were captivated with the Pacific tattooed body and they collected it in the form of sketches and drawings or by having their own bodies tattooed. Since then there has been a high level of mutual influence and cultural exchange in terms of tattooing, with the result that Pacific tattoo patterns are recognised globally.

However, not much is known about the nineteenth century tradition of female tattooing in Fiji, veiqia. Karen Jacobs encountered this practice in archives through her research on fibre skirts, liku. The, seemingly unlikely, close association between these skirts and the tattoo markings taught her how tattooing and clothing transformed the body and expressed new stages in a woman’s life. She learned about patterns, wrappings and recent interest in the practice and looks forward to sharing some of her fascinating recent findings.

– Saturday  9th Sept 4pm

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