Art Spaces: a tool for development in Northern Region

Rahamatu-Lahi Zakaria || Sanatu Zambang Newsroom

Sometimes we just need a place to go and relax, bring us closer to our environment and reflect on the past, present and future. One place to visit when in Tamale is the Red Clay Studios and Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art.

We eat art, we drink art, we breath art and pray art but art is one of the least embrace discipline here. One man who is trying to change the narrative of the discipline and inspire a new crop of artists in the region is Ibrahim Mahama, founder of Redclay Studios and Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art.

He has practice his art for several years exhibiting his works across the world and now, he has returned home to help inspire and nature a new generation of creative thinkers to change the narrative in the north. Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art which was open last year, is an art center dedicated to celebrating the retrospective works of artists in the country.

Ibrahim Mahama – Red Clay Studios

To discuss art and the center, Sanatu Zambang studios hosted Iddi Yussif Rayan, a teacher and a youth activist, Mohammed Deen, a pension worker and Adnan Kataali a banker. These people in their own worth appreciate art and are passionate about the development of the youth.

The discussion was centered on art, how we can preserve art and if we as northerners appreciate art. In the discussion, one thing was clear, the panels showed their appreciation and admiration to Ibrahim Mahama for taking the steps in his own wisdom to develop an art centre here that will play a key role in transforming how we think about art, appreciate art and also develop a new crop of generational thinkers. Rayan had this to say about our how we appreciate art in this place

“I think our entire history is built on art especially the Dagbon Kingdom, you hear the history about the drummer, you hear history about our chiefs, we hear about the people, how they built their houses and everything around it. If someone can trace one great grandparents, you can imagine the artistic mindset of the people and what goes into their thinking to identify that kind of linage”

“Openly we do not appreciate art but our entire life is built on art. Unknowingly we appreciate art. It all depends on what we think to be art” he added.

Iddi Yussif Rayan,

” I think to very large extend, we don’t appreciate art, we just like art and it just a few of us who wants to know what is behind when you look at a piece of art. Until we begin to appreciate art and put some value on it, we will have a very hard time to preserve it.

I remember growing up we use milk tin to make cars, long vehicles and all that. When you look at that, they were nice. But we were just doing it for fun. We were kids These are things probably if our parents knew the value of that thing. Those are things that they could have preserve and trust me, it would have served well. Now you go to offices and you see miniature of bicycle and car. Those things are nice. Art is worth preserving when we begin to appreciate it.”

Adnan Kataali

”I think art is about the things that people appreciate. You look at something and say it is nice and it is something that has a meaning. It can even be about our culture.”


Rayan also took a swipe at our educational system that does not allow children to be inquisitive

Does our education system allow us to be inquisitive? It is fixed and rigid and if you try to think outside the direction you are given, they consider you as all knowing and they will not allow you to explore whatever you are thinking and that in itself limit the creativity’

”I think we are not all that inquisitive. I think every lover of art is a creative person and very inquisitive. you see an art piece and there is a lot of curiosity surrounding it.

It is about time we pay closer attention to our young ones where their interest is. We treat art like a last result. We should put students who have interest in art there” said Adnan.

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