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Interview: Anthony Amoako-Attah among Shortlisted Brookfield Properties Craft Award Artists

Interview: Anthony Amoako-Attah among Shortlisted Brookfield Properties Craft Award Artists

The five artists shortlisted for the Brookfield Properties Craft Award, in partnership with the Crafts Council 2022 are Anthony Amoako-Attah, Dawn Bendick, Cecilia Charlton, Christian Ovonlen and Irina Razumovskaya.

Now in its third year, the Brookfield Properties Craft Award is one of the most significant craft prizes in the UK, worth £60,000 to the artist and their associated gallery. The Award recognises an artist who significantly contributes to the story of contemporary craft and making in the UK.

As part of the Award, Brookfield Properties acquires the winning artist’s work for the Crafts Council Collection, which currently holds over 1,700 objects. The winning artist, selected by Crafts Council and Brookfield Properties curators, will also receive a solo exhibition at a Brookfield Properties space opening in summer 2022.

The inaugural award in 2020 was won by Matt Smith, with Anna Ray winning in 2021.

The five shortlisted artists were selected from 350 artists showing at the 2022 edition of Collect, the leading international fair for contemporary design and craft. A longlist of ten artists were initially selected, which were then whittled down to the final five.

Amoako-Attah’s work has been exhibited at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, and at Sunderland Museum, which commissioned him to produce an artwork for their collection in 2020.  He was awarded Winner in the Aspiring Glass Artists 2020 category in Warm Glass UK’s The Glass Prize and is scheduled to teach at Pilchuck Glass School in Washington during the summer of 2022.

A primarily self-taught artist, Amoako-Attah’s work explores themes related to the effects of migration, dislocation, and personal identity using traditional Kente designs and Adinkra symbols from his native Ghana.  Employing screen printed glass powders and kilnforming techniques, Amoako-Attah’s work resembles woven or printed textiles.

Anthony Amoako-Attah said on being shortlisted.
“I would like to give a big thank you to my Dad for his massive support in my studies and to Bullseye Glass for contributing to the development of my artistic and professional career. I am honoured and pleased to be shortlisted for the Brookfield Properties Craft Award. To win this award would be a massive step in my life, as my source of happiness is making work in the studio. Being part of the shortlist signals that the future is bright when determination, love, dedication, and creativity fuel our dreams.”

About Anthony Amoako-Attah
Anthony Amoako-Attah is a PhD student in Art and Design (glass and ceramics) at the University of Sunderland, where he received an MA (glass) in 2016.  He completed a BA in Industrial Art (ceramics) at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

Congrats what does it fill like to be on the shortlist?

I feel very honoured and pleased! I can still remember when I started my masters at Sunderland and my fellow international students where asking whether there would be any jobs in my profession once I graduate. They couldn’t understand why I chose to study Art (Glass) instead of a degree in science or engineering.

How did you decide your career path?

It all started during my 2nd year as an undergraduate in Ghana, when I realised that my lecturers who went to school abroad had greater teaching experience. I have ceramics as a background and during one of my courses we learnt about glaze formulation and glass. My department had the vision of establishing a glass unit but it hasn’t been possible due to the lack of technical know-how and materials. After my undergraduate, I decided to pursue glass as a master’s even though I had no experience with the technical process.

How would you describe your works /practise?

My work/practice acts as a bridge between two cultures, representing my personal and cultural identity via the medium of glass, which is well understood within the contemporary world of art.  It elaborates on migration, integration, dislocation and life chances within the African diaspora using Kente design and Adinkra symbols as the main motifs.

What /who inspires you the most?

The person who inspires me most is my dad. I am inspired by life chances as well as African proverbs. I believe that life is not a straight line. Even if we fall, we will stand up again. I love fabrics and how softly they drape to conform with the object they find themselves with.

What are some of the other materials you use in your works other than glass?

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99% is glass. The remaining 1% is the fixtures, which I used to hang the glass. They were either metal, wood or Perspex.

What do you like about working with glass?

The sparkles when light reflects on fused glass powders. The fact that it is malleable when heat is applied to it in the Kiln. The glass tells me the right temperature to fire it up to in order to get the right colours for my pieces. I love the feeling when people glance at my work and ask whether it is glass or not. Elaborate on “your views on glass as a ‘western material’.

There is no university in Ghana teaching glass as an art practice. So, for me to pursue this ‘new material’ within a western world, I call it a ‘western material’. Most of the glass art pieces found in Ghana are imported.

What has the Pandemic experience been like?

It has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life because I couldn’t go to the university to work or visit close family in the UK due to the lockdown restrictions. I produced three pieces of work based on my emotions during this time, titled my childhood, my adulthood and my old age with the main overarching title Thinking (Reality and Dreams).

What are you working on next?

I am working on a project called Dance with your Culture where the main material is glass. I am also waiting on some materials to start two of my project works, Ghana must go, which is a bag (dealing with migration and dislocation), and Coat of many colours, a coat (dealing with integration) made with glass.

The winner will be revealed on 24 February 2022 at a VIP ceremony at Somerset House, as part of Crafts Council’s Collect 2022 art fair.