One of my favorite places to catch my breath is the Artists Alliance (or Omanye House) in Labadi. The three storey building features contemporary art as well as cloth, beads, masks, and statues from West Africa.
As Time Out describes, it 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, 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.”
It’s not quite museum because everything there can be purchased and prices are non-negotiable. I’m sure you can buy nearly everything there for less if you’re willing to go hunting for them in the various markets across the country. Sorry, my head cannot endure hours of bumpy roads to save maybe 30 percent off a 15 cedi bracelet.
Artists Alliance is usually empty except for a handful of staff. Most visitors are non-Ghanaians. I imagine they are like myself — looking for a dose of culture before returning to the normal hub bub. Surprisingly, Accra only has a handful of cultural spots to visit: Kwame Nkrumah’s Mausoleum, the National Museum, Independence Square, the W.E. Dubois Center. If you want to see cultural artifacts, I believe, then you need to travel to Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti region.
The manager of Artists Alliance is named Believe. She says it’s a shame that most Ghanaians are not interested in the works on display. She says most people take the art and crafts for granted. I think it’s symptomatic of a country at an early stage of its development. I know art collectors in China is a relatively recent phenomena.