Colours of Africa: a Google and Design Indaba collaboration
We explore a continental and global first as a new online showcase of creativity is unveiled
As Africans, we tell powerful stories through colour, and the recent launch of “Colours of Africa” by Design Indaba in partnership with Google Arts & Culture brings this vividly to life. The unique online project showcases 60 specially curated artworks produced by over 60 African creatives, each invited to contribute a work that captures the colour and character of their home country.
“Africa is known for its bold, unapologetic use of colour. Each country, city and community is identifiable by its unique palette,” says Design Indaba’s founder Ravi Naidoo, who selected the featured creatives from a wide range of disciplines, from architecture, illustration, painting and ceramics through to writing, engineering, the performing arts and visual communications. Their creations have been converted into images, videos, texts and illustrations, showcasing the best of African craft, product, industrial design, fashion, film, animation, graphic, food, music, jewellery and architecture. The multidisciplinary mix of 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 first artistic undertaking of this scale, the project enables viewers to discover the stories of Africa as told by the African creative community. The artworks are showcased online, where users are invited to spin a kaleidoscope to explore the works in a virtual journey through the palette of Africa, viewing each country through the eyes of a local artist. “This project tells a story of a continent through a universally accessible lens,” says Naidoo.
To bring the project to life, Design Indaba enlisted former Design Indaba conference speaker Noel Pretorius and his creative partner, Elin Sjöberg, who collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab to create the design concept and interface for the digital exhibition. The kaleidoscopic navigation tool 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 of this kind has been done before, says Naidoo. “We’re very excited to break new ground. This is an important artistic catalogue, 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.”
“Google has always been acutely aware and in full support of the immense creative melting pot that exists on the continent,” says Nitin Gajria, managing director at Google. “Collaborating with Design Indaba on this project allows us to bring this support to fruition. By empowering and amplifying African voices to tell the unique stories of their cultures through their creativity, we hope to provide much-needed exposure, cultivate a newfound curiosity, and open a window onto the vast beauty that exists on the continent.”
Explore the continent through the eyes of the inspired. To view Colours of Africa, visit: https://goo.gle/coloursofafrica on Google Arts & Culture.
Photography: Supplied with hero image South Africa’s Lady Skollie entitled Impending Doom Approaching (2020) Crayon and Ink on Paper
Production: J-P de la Chaumette