We Face Forward is a season of contemporary art and music from West Africa taking place in Manchester between June and September, as part of the London 2012 Festival

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Three art venues are taking part: Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery and the Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall, with exhibitions featuring painting, photography, textiles, sculpture and video. Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore, three of the exhibited artists, talk about their work and their interest in using materials which reflect the lifestyle and experience of the people of West Africa.

Barthélémy Toguo’s (Cameroon) Redemption 2012 installation is inspired by Bob Marley and the idea of communities facing each other, migration and borders in a world where travel and transition has a profound effect on an individual’s sense of identity, freedom, relationships and emotions. Redemption 2011 can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery.

Nnenna Okore (Nigeria) uses ordinary material to create extraordinary sculptures. When the Heavens Meet the Earth 2011 uses a large piece of burlap material frayed and manipulated to ‘float’ on the wall of the Manchester Art Gallery. Lucy Azubuike’s (Nigeria) Wear and Tear Series 2011 of collages was influenced by collections of posters and advertisements on the streets of Nigeria. In this series she uses found posters, pages from magazines and paint to create an abstract form of colour and imagery. Her piece is on display at Whitworth Art Gallery.

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