What a momentous year it has been for October Gallery. Earlier in the year, October Gallery marked 40 years of existing as a space that fosters growth and spotlights artists that go on to be giants (or already are) in the art industry. In celebration of their 40th, the gallery showcased an exhibition titled: Dream No Small Dream (DNSD), which brought together an immense pool of talent. 1979 saw the erection of October Gallery, as Chili Hawes came to the UK to make a space that celebrated art. Together with a formidable team i.e. Elisabeth Lalouschek and all those behind the scenes, Hawes has expanded October Gallery into a spectacular community, birthing out some of the most popular artists known presently. The celebratory exhibition showed works from established artists like El Anatsui, Kenji Yoshida, Romuald Hazoume, and James Barnor, to new artists that are shaking up the industry like Alexis Peskine, Jukee Kwon, and Eddy Kamuanga. The Gallery’s aim has always being to discover new visual sensibility, and this is a continuous motivation that keeps this space thriving.
So, it is very fitting that the final exhibition before their usual month break in August was in celebration of legendary Ghanaian painter, Professor Ablade Glover. Titled Wogbe Jeke, this exhibition not only beautifully ties up the stupendous year the gallery has had but it celebrates the life of Professor Glover who turned 85. I was able to attend the private viewing and hear Professor Glover give a brief speech, surrounded by his loved ones and avid supporters.
The room was overcome with emotions after a powerful introduction and celebratory speech by The Rt Hon. The Lord Boateng. The night went swimmingly well, as there was an air of intimacy that distinguished this viewing from the gallery’s previous private viewings.
Professor Glover’s works have an instant eye-catching vibrancy to them that is inescapable. If you’ve ever visited a popular city in an African country like Nigeria or Ghana, the works displayed will pull you in back into those spaces. I was constantly reminded of the busy markets like Yaba (Nigeria), with the yellow buses and each conductor shouting over the noise of the market people, trying to get as many seats filled as possible.
Every brush stroke seems deliberate, with every colour used playing a significant purpose. Not every piece was in relation to a busy market life; there was the Red Forest (pictured below) that resembled a painting of one giant tree but upon inspection, you see the forest within.
The most outstanding pieces for me were of the (market) women as it brought out something different to the rest of Professor Glover’s works. Their depiction suggests a carefreeness that many of us long to achieve. There is movement in this painting. There is Black Girl Magic.
Much like Professor Glover, October Gallery has come a long way. I very much look forward to seeing what and who else they bring from September; it is my hope that there will be an expansion of women artists in their roster. Giving that the gallery is effectively run by two brilliant women, an exhibition that celebrates the women artists (and signing more women artists) would be extremely prudent.
The exhibition ends on the 3rd of August and admittedly this post is coming out just shy of the end but I can’t encourage you enough to visit as soon as you can. Make time, even if it’s for 10 minutes. If you haven’t yet, October Gallery is a hidden gem tucked away behind Great Ormond Street Hospital waiting for you to discover it.