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Ibrahim Mahama's 'Purple Hibiscus' transforms the Barbican’s famous Lakeside Terrace

The Barbican Centre | London, United Kingdom

The Barbican announces the first large-scale public commission to be presented in the UK by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama (b.1987), opening in April 2024. Transforming the Barbican’s famous Lakeside Terrace, which sits at the heart of the brutalist complex, the site-specific artwork will dramatically envelop the building’s iconic concrete exterior with approximately 2000 square metres of bespoke woven cloth.


Credit: 5. Ibrahim Mahama, Purple Hibiscus, 2023-24. Courtesy Ibrahim Mahama, Red Clay Tamale, Barbican Centre, London and White Cube
Credit: Ibrahim Mahama, Purple Hibiscus, 2023-24. Courtesy Ibrahim Mahama, Red Clay Tamale, Barbican Centre, London

Purple Hibiscus, named after Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s eponymous 2003 novel, is an ambitious new commission created in collaboration with hundreds of craftspeople from Tamale in Ghana. The work has been woven and then sewn by hand to produce colossal panels of pink and purple fabric that will be fitted to the brutalist planes of the Barbican’s Lakeside façade.


Embroidered onto the cloth are approximately 100 batakaris – robes worn by Northern Ghanaian royals and ordinary people – which Mahama has collected through a process of exchange and barter from numerous communities across Northern Ghana. These precious textiles, often saved by families over generations, tucked away in wardrobes or stored below beds, carry the imprints of the lives, lineage and power of the figures they once clothed. Worn, degraded and bearing traces of years of use, these smocks are testaments to the endurance of traditional belief systems, and the continued relevance of intergenerational knowledge. Incorporating these smocks into the commission carries forward Mahama’s deep interest in the life cycles of textiles and what can be learnt from the historical memories embedded within them.


The Installation will be up from: Wed 10 Apr—Sun 18 Aug 2024

For More information, visit The Barbican Centre

 


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Ibrahim Mahama's 'Purple Hibiscus' transforms the Barbican’s famous Lakeside Terrace

April 9, 2024

Art Report Africa

1 min read

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