Upcoming Africa-related and free exhibitions at the British Museum, both with associated events (Sowei mask event Feb 16).

 Sowei mask: spirit of Sierra Leone |14/02 – 28/04

14/02 – 21/04 | Social Fabric: African Textiles today 

Great Court at the British Museum

Great Court at the British Museum

Sowei mask: spirit of Sierra Leone

14 February – 28 April 2013
Room 3, BM

BM_Sowei_mask_exhibitionThere will be a live performance this Saturday, 16 February, at 2pm at the Great Court, to celebrate the opening of Sowei mask at the British Museum – a rare opportunity to see the ndole jowe masquerade of the London-based, all female Sande initiation society (see poster, below).

Sowei masks – unique to the region around Sierra Leone – are worn by senior members of the all-female Sande Society during rite-of-passage ceremonies that signify a girl’s transition to adulthood. They are carved expressions of local ideals of feminine beauty, health and serenity that vary widely in their detail.


There are also free, 45 min drop-in gallery talks:
Thursday February 21, at 13.15 in Room 3, Sowo wui: a Sierra Leonean mask between worlds, Paul Basu (independent speaker).
Wednesday 27 March, at 13.15 in Room 3, Masks and masquerade: the art of transformation in Africa, Fiona Sheales (British Museum).

Social fabric: African Textiles Today. Textiles from eastern and southern Africa

14 February – 21 April 2013
Room 91, BM


From the series ‘A New Beginning’
© Araminta de Clermont, Cape Town, South Africa, 2009–2010

The rich fabric of African printed and factory-woven textiles reflects changing times, fashions and tastes. From eastern to southern Africa, the social and historical significance of these beautiful and diverse materials are also reflected in the identities of those who wear them.

This exhibition takes a fresh look at the history, manufacture and continuing social significance of these textiles – the designs of which depict the convergence of African tastes and patronage with strong historical and contemporary trading ties from across the globe.



The exhibition is related to curator, Chris Spring’s book, African Textiles Today.

Gallery talks:
Thursday February 28, 13.15 in Room 91, Printed cloth of eastern and southern Africa: Kanga, Capulana and Shweshwe, Elsbeth Court and Elizabeth Galvin, School of Oriental and African Studies and British Museum.
Thursday March 14, 13.15 in Room 91, Reading history through cloth: textiles of eastern and southern Africa, Christopher Spring, British Museum.
Friday March 22, 13.15 in Room 25, Social fabric: African textiles in the British Museum, Elsbeth Court, British Museum.
Friday April 19, 13.15 in Room 91, Cloth(es) of the south: contemporary printed textiles and blankets from southern Africa, Catherine Elliott, British Museum.


Sowei Sat 16 Feb 2013


Categories: Announcements, News, & Upcoming

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