By John Owoo
(At the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra)
An exhibition of works by the pioneering Ghanaian photographer James Barnor that forms part of Ghana @ 60 Celebrations is currently on display at the Archi Afrika Design and Architecture Gallery and the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra.
Put together by Archi Afrika and Everyoungjba Archives, photos on display at the Archi Afrika Gallery located at the famous James Town neighborhood in Accra, partially focus on historical buildings and spaces in Accra, thereby rekindling the debate on preservation and conservation of such structures.
Images of these iconic buildings, some of which still dot the city of Accra, undeniably bring nostalgic feelings to elderly members of the society, who recollect with zeal, life in the pre / post independence period in Accra.
In the process, Barnor forcefully reveals the architecture of the era, which is heavily steeped in colonial and postcolonial history. Consequently, he takes the viewer on a mute journey that equally brings memories of Ghana’s political, religious, cultural and social past.
His works at the Mövenpick Hotel, which is being organized by The Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa, comprise portraiture style pictures shot in Ghana and the United Kingdom as well as pictures from magazine covers.
The photographs, which are more or less in domestic settings, manage to avoid the exotica and tend to be in normal surroundings as witnessed by the upbeat and positive nature of his subjects.
Undeniably, his photos compellingly showcase cultures in variation and societies in transition while documenting the experience of blacks in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and flourishing life in Accra in the 1940s and beyond.
Barnor began working in 1947 and set up Ever Young Photography studio in Accra. He has photographed members of his community and accepted commissions from the press and other organizations.
His early works captured major events before, during and after Ghana gained independence in 1957. He relocated to the United Kingdom in the 1960s and worked for Drum, a South African magazine, where he was credited with numerous cover images.
The exhibition at Mövenpick Ambassador ends on Friday March 31while the show at Archi Afrika Gallery ends on Friday May 5.