In the Summer of 2014 Atta Kwami travelled to Liverpool to see the Mondrian exhibition at Tate Liverpool, and the Dazzle Ship in the Albert Dock; he also visited the World Museum to look at the collection in their World Cultures gallery. After meeting up with Dr. Zachary Kingdon, Curator of African Collections, they talked about the possibility of a small exhibition within the galleries. Atta Kwami wanted to draw objects on display. Later Zachary Kingdon asked if he might also like to draw some works from the collections in storage. Atta Kwami was very enthusiastic and returned to Liverpool to make studies of brass gold weights from Ghana, silver jewellery from the Sahara, beadwork from East Africa, Nigerian ankle ornaments and carved wooden utensils from Central Africa.
Initially Atta Kwami thought of making a suite of etchings but finally decided to make a series of linoleum cuts in order to produce densely, multi-coloured prints that would have a similar resonance to his paintings. Linoleum cutting, or lino cuts, is a relief method of printing like woodcuts in which the negative areas are cut away and read as white and the remaining positive areas take the ink, when inked up with a roller, and print as black or colour.
Atta Kwami cut various shapes and inked them individually and put them together rather like a patchwork or a jig-saw to make a multi-coloured baseprint; then he printed another block over it. This second block was intricately cut in such a way as to reveal areas of under-printings in some areas and over-printing in others. This way he quickly multiplied the number of possible colour combinations. Kwami’s work has an affinity with the rich traditions of West African design, more specifically, textiles and architecture.
Prints in Counterpoint – A suite of 16 linocuts, Liverpool Counterpoint (1-16)
Printed by Pamela Clarkson and Atta Kwami in 2014.
Dimensions: 50 x 33 cm; ink on BFK Rives paper.
Edition number: 5
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Zachary Kingdon, Curator of African Collections,
Liverpool World Museum, William Brown Street,
Liverpool L3 8EN
Text and images
© Atta Kwami 2014