Follow Ghana’s ‘yellow-brick road’

If you follow the yellow-brick road in Ghana, it does not take you to the Land of Oz’s Emerald City, but rather to La – a district in the capital Accra.

This is where artist Serge Attukwei Clottey periodically carpets the dusty streets with giant yellow plastic tapestries.

Yellow tapestry created by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

Clottey told the BBC his work is about property rights. The residents of many poor communities in Africa cannot prove land ownership because they do not have the paperwork.

Someone sitting on a jerry can on some yellow tapestry created by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

Each of the squares is cut from a distinctive type of jerrycan, known in Ghana as a “Kufuor gallon” – named after former President John Kufuor – and then sewn together to form plastic carpeting.

In the early 2000s, when Mr Kufuor was in power, there were water shortages and the large yellow containers began to be seen around the country as people used them on their long treks to collect water.

People rolling out yellow tapestry tapestry designed by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

Some are still in use, but many now lie discarded and Clottey repurposes them for his art, which he calls “Afrogallonism”.

People standing near artwork using jerrycans by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a beach in Accra, Ghana

Clottey estimates that he has used 30,000 Kufuor gallons since 2005 when he started using them in his artwork.

A vehicle on a yellow tapestry created by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

About 3,000 of them have gone into the yellow-brick road project that began in 2016, he says.

People sewing the yellow tapestry designed by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

The artist works with an assistant, but local people also get involved in cutting up the Kufuor gallons and stitching the pieces together.

People rolling out yellow tapestry tapestry designed by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

They are excited to be making an artwork that gets to be shown in their home rather than sent around the world – and they are happy that it draws foreign visitors to La, Clottey says.

People spreading out yellow tapestry created by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

He sketches what he wants the work to look like, but its exact form emerges organically as different people get involved.

People queuing with jerrycans on yellow tapestry created by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on a road in La - Accra, Ghana

As part of the project he also gets people to help him collect the Kufuor gallons.

Men dressed in drag pictured near yellow jerrycans in Accra, Ghana

Clottey goes to dumpsites with friends and they dress up in drag to symbolise how the Kufuor gallons are associated with women.

A an weighing jerrycans in La - Accra, Ghana

People take the Kufuor gallons that they have collected to Clottey’s workshop, where they are weighed and paid $3 (£2.30) per kilogramme.

Serge Clottey standing on one of his tapestries in La - Accra, Ghana

Clottey expects to complete the project in 2020 when he hopes to have marked out an area in La which he says belongs to his family.

Aerial shot of yellow tapestry created by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey on roads in La - Accra, Ghana

 

Pictures by: Nii Odzenma

First Published 21.10.18: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45836387

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