Kenya's Anyango Mpinga, an ardent advocate of contemporary sustainable fashion brands, is among 60 artists whose work will be showcased in the newly launched Colours of Africa webpage on the Google Arts and Culture platform.
Mpinga, who champions cultural innovation, circular design and intersectionality, will be representing Kenya on the platform launched last November through a partnership between Google Arts and Culture, and Designs Indaba.
“My Artwork, '30 Shades of Purple,' features the Kenya national bird, the lilac-breasted roller, and the Kenyan national flower, the tropical orchid,” said Mpinga.
Although it features 60 individual artists from over 50 African countries and territories, the project focuses on individual uniqueness.
The worldwide project will allow viewers to discover stories of Africa as told by the African creative community.
According to the Google team, while it is the first artistic project of this scale, spanning the work of leading creative minds from almost every African country, its focus is not on quantity but on the extraordinary quality of the continent’s contemporary output.
Africa is known for its bold, unapologetic use of colour, with stories told in pigments, tones and hues in a kaleidoscope as diverse as the cultures and peoples of the continent.
“This project does not, however, reflect on how Africa provides inspiration and influence; instead, it celebrates resident and diasporic makers, and how their home turf informs their practice.”
For Colours of Africa, each artist involved was invited to put forward their interpretation of colour, what colour means to them, and how colour is important, or representative of, their country of origin. They were challenged to capture the unique spirit of their home in a particular shade and articulate what being African means to their identity and worldview.
To help realise the project, Design Indaba collaborated with former Design Indaba conference speaker Noel Pretorius and his creative partner Elin Sjöberg. Together they created the design concept and interface design for the digital exhibition.
“Nothing like this has existed to date, so we’re very excited to break new ground,” says Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo, who started his world-renowned event in Cape Town, South Africa.
“This is an important artistic catalogue, the first of its kind to plot the expanse of African artistry on Google Arts and Culture,” he adds.
The project involves creatives from almost every discipline imaginable, from architecture, illustration, painting and ceramics to writing, engineering, the performing arts and visual communications.
The multidisciplinary mix of 60 artists includes Algerian photographer Ramsy Bansaadi, fashion designer Bisrat Negassi from Eritrea, filmmaker Archange Kiyindou “Yamakasi” from the Republic of Congo, and visual artist Ngadi Smart from Sierra Leone.
“We work with cultural institutions and artists around the world. Together, our mission is to preserve and bring the world’s art and culture online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere,” states Google.
As part of the project launch, Design Indaba commissioned South African multi-disciplinary artist and activist Lebo Mashile, to compose an original piece of poetry that celebrates the Colours of Africa coming into its own.