Google partners Design Indaba to showcase African creatives

A partnership between Google Arts & Culture and Design Indaba has seen the launch of an online project called ‘Colours of Africa’, which is to bring online and showcase 60 specially curated artworks produced by over 60 unique African creatives.

Each invited guest contributes a work that captures the ‘colour’ and personality of their home country. The goal was to highlight the best of African craft, product, industrial design, fashion, film, animation, graphics, food, music, jewellery, and architecture.

According to Ravi Naidoo, founder of Design Indaba, Africa is known for its unapologetic use of colour. Each country, city, and community is distinguished by its distinct colour palette.

He also said as Africans have the ability to tell powerful stories through colour, the project will tell the story of a continent through a lens that is accessible to everyone.

The first artistic undertaking of this scale, allows viewers to discover stories of Africa as told by the African creative community.

The artworks are showcased online where users are invited to spin the kaleidoscope to explore the works in an effort to take users on a journey through Africa, inviting them to view each country through the eyes of a local artist.

“Google has always been acutely aware and in full support of the immense creative melting pot that exists on the continent. Collaborating with Design Indaba on this project allows us to bring this support to fruition” said Nitin Gajria, Google’s managing director for Africa.

He continued, “We hope to provide much-needed exposure, cultivate a newfound curiosity, and window into the vast beauty that exists on the continent by empowering and amplifying African voices to tell the unique stories of their cultures through their work and creativity.”

Almost every creative discipline is represented in the project, from architecture, illustration, painting, and ceramics to writing, engineering, performing arts, and visual communications.

Read also: Gender-based policies seen tackling inequality – Diplomats

Their creations have been converted into images, videos, texts and illustrations. The multidisciplinary mix of 60 artists includes Algerian photographer Ramzy Bensaadi, fashion designer Bisrat Negassi from Eritrea, filmmaker Archange Kiyindou “Yamakasi” from the Republic of Congo and visual artist Ngadi Smart from Sierra Leone.

The exhibition features a kaleidoscopic navigation tool that can be used to explore the art in a randomised way, giving the visitor a unique experience, while allowing the art itself to shine.

“Nothing like this exists to date, so we’re very excited to break new ground. This is an important artistic catalog, the first of its kind to plot the expanse of African artistry on Google Arts & Culture. We salute Google for taking this important step to provide the world with a resource like this – not everyone can afford to travel here, or access physical art fairs and museums to view this kind of work,” Naidoo said.

In addition to the ‘Colours of Africa’ platform, the initiative saw the launch of over 4 000 images, videos and 20 carefully curated exhibits from Design Indaba’s extensive archive. Award-winning initiatives like Sheltersuit, Arch for Arch and Emerging Creatives were profiled extensively for the first time online.

New works by some of the most important creatives working on the continent and abroad were also displayed. These include Fozia Ismail (featured creative on Serpentine Gallery’s Creative Exchange programme), Mayada Adil El Sayed (represented Sudanese women at the Generation Equality Forum) and Lady Skollie (winner of 10th FNB art prize).

Design Indaba, which celebrated its 25th year in 2020, draws top thinkers and guests from across the globe. Acknowledged as the world’s best design conference, it continues to be a leader in foregrounding African creativity, making it the logical ‘home’ for this project.

Nike Monica Okundaye, a Nigerian multi-talented creative and accomplished professional artist, was commissioned as part of the project launch to capture the unique spirit of her country in a colour that represents home to her. She made an original painting called ‘The Female Drummer/Àyánbìnrin.