Polo Lifestyles June 2020 - The Restorative Power of a Garden

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fter five months, Raphael Dapaah is back at Polo Lifestyles with a fresh perspective and new series, “Patrons’ Place” that explores the collections and insights of budding and established art collectors and patrons. This series will run every other month with the artists’ vernissage series, thus highlighting the contingent journeys of artists and collectors. Name: Chantel Akworkor Thompson Occupation: Teacher Location: Currently Praslin, Seychelles, usually London, UK Collector Level: Established RD: When did you buy your first piece of art, and what was it? CAT: Wow, I had to think about this. I can’t believe I couldn’t immediately remember which was the first piece in my collection that I bought. I mean, I have always gathered small artworks on my travels throughout the African continent since I first visited in 2008, but nothing on the scale of what I collect now. But my first real pieces were three prints by Prince Gyasi in 2018. I had been traveling frequently to Ghana that year and had come across his work on Instagram. I just loved the vibrancy of page 132

the colors, the way he depicted black bodies, child bodies and the concept of “boxed kids”. As a teacher, that really resonated with me. At the time, Prince was not signed and was working independently. I hadn’t originally wanted three, but he had made a mistake with the order and then later convinced me to take all three, a decision I don’t regret. I met him in Accra to collect the pieces and I got a great vibe off him. A short while later, he was signed, and one of the pieces I have was no longer allowed to be reproduced for sale, so I guess it’s a rarity. How many pieces of art do you currently have in your private collection? Twenty-three originals, but I’m in the process of purchasing another couple. Collecting is so addictive. What drew you to start collecting, and what does contemporary art by Artists of African heritage mean to you? I think a love of art is part and parcel of being Ghanaian personally; the creative arts are so ingrained in our culture that we can’t help but love it. For me personally though, when it comes to collecting, I saw it not only as a way to own and cherish pieces I fell in love with, but also as a way of honoring those creating the works by being their collector of African heritage. The world of art collecting is White, middle or upper class and male, but the creators of African Art are not. The narratives and bodies depicted in the works, in my opinion, need to be owned by those that understand them, have lived it and respect it, for what they are, not for their monetary value. I feel that as people of African descent we need to place more value in that which is our own to keep it authentic.

We can’t let art be the ‘new Scramble for Africa’. What does contemporary art by Artists of African heritage mean to me? So much: The authenticity, royalty, vibrancy and diversity of a country so often misrepresented, embodied in a work of art on a canvas. Which piece of art in your collection is your favorite, if any, and why? An unfair question. Each piece has a different place in my heart. Also, with all but four or so, I have met or talked at length with the artists of each piece. And most times it is through that connection with the artist that I have actually confirmed purchase. Therefore, each piece touches me differently. I don’t have a favorite, but many of my friends and family favor Affen Segun’s Black is Beautiful. Name three living artists you would love to include in your collection in future. It was going to be a Ghanaian trio, but I just swapped one out. Serge Clottey, who is one of my faves, hands down, I don’t actually know why I don’t own anything of his, but I will before the year is out. Not only is he a great artist across a number of mediums and different, yet distinctive styles, he is also a great person. Always greets me with a warm smile and a hug. The personal connection is always a winner. Lynette Boakye, everything she produces is stunning. I’m in awe of her work, haven’t met her but would love to. Would be properly fan-girling. Really needed more than three, I’m deciding now between Toyin Ojih Odutola, Alexis Peskine and Nelson Makamo.