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A Look into Accra’s Artistic Journey

As described by the Hon. Nathaniel Nuno-Amarteifio

Picture Accra, Ghana in the 1970’s. The economy was unstable, inflation was high, and the value of the Cedi was in free fall against the dollar and other foreign currencies. The governing party was in disarray and the city was heading towards major political unrest. Meanwhile, somewhere in the background, the artistic community was gaining some momentum, despite not having access to the art materials and resources we see in such abundance today.

The late Hon. Nathaniel Nuno-Amarteifio. Image courtesy of GH Headlines

Former mayor of Accra and CEO of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Architect, Writer, Collector, and Commentator of the art scene (and Great uncle of Nicola Charles, founder of 11:Eleven gallery in Washington DC), Hon. Nathaniel Nuno-Amarteifio provides insight into the challenges faced by artists in the country during these times which are so rarely spoken about.

"For canvases, they used to go to Flour Mills or where people who make cakes and bread have their factories and buy the empty sacks"
A child's art at the Chale Wote Street Art Festival (2013)

In 2020, he is loosely quoted as saying, “I remember in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was such scarcity of art materials on the market, that some artists would go to the slaughterhouse and buy the skins of slaughtered animals, scrape the hairs off the back and use the hairs to create brushes for their paintings.

For canvases, they used to go to Flour Mills or where people who make cakes and bread have their factories and buy the empty sacks, and they used all kinds of pigments to create paint. Of course you could get these materials from the market, if you could afford them.”

Chale Wote Street Art Festival (2017). Image courtesy of Africa On The Rise.
contemporary artists intentionally embrace unorthodox methods and tools for their niche appeal

The struggle Mr. Nuno-Amarteifio speaks of is no longer seen in the now vibrant city of Accra, where there are multiple internationally renowned Art galleries, Art Supply stores, and the annual ‘Chale Wote Street Art Festival’, which is attended by tens of thousands of people internationally. The festival is held in the coastal urban complex known as James Town: Accra’s oldest district, just yards from the Amarteifio family house in Bukom.

Hon. Nat Nuno-Amarteifio. Born 28 Dec 1943. Died 20 Dec 2021. Age 79.

Sadly, Mr. Nuno-Amarteifio passed away on December 20, 2021, leaving a gaping hole in Accra’s artistic landscape. He was a distinguished figure who attended Howard University (Washington, D.C) in 1964 and graduated in 1969 with his Bachelor of Science. He pursued his master’s degree at the Pratt Institute (New York City).

Nuno-Amarteifio was valued as an impeccable asset to the Accra art community, and his legacy maintains the spirit of artistic integrity in the heart of Accra, Ghana. His absence reverberates through his family, friends, and legions of followers alike.

The Hon. Nathaniel Nuno-Amarteifio was laid to rest on 21 January 2022 and is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, siblings and extended family, his burial service was attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, a delegation from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by Mr. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, the National Chairman of the NDC and Madam Elizabeth Kwatsoe Tawiah, the Chief Executive of AMA.

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