The BBC site has a slideshow of works from a new art gallery, Art of the Heart. Not an unusual thing to see on the Beeb site, of course, but this one is actually pretty special – its the first art gallery to open in the troubled state of Liberia in Western Africa since the bitter 14-year long civil war ended in 2003. One of the founders of the new gallery, which it is hoped will promote peace and culture after the awful conflict, is Leslie Lumeh, a painter, illustrator and leading cartoonist in Liberia, who’s work has appeared in the Liberian Observer and elsewhere.
(Leslie Lumeh poses before one of his works for the new gallery, pic borrowed from the BBC)
After returning from exile to a country in ruins he decided to set up in the gallery in the capital, Monrovia: “This gallery spells peace. True peace… I decided to do this for the artists, not just for me, so we can have a place where we can showcase Liberian culture,” Lumeh told the BBC. At the moment few of the locals can afford to actually buy the art (mostly it is the UN workers who do) but Lumeh believes they appreciate what the artists are trying to do; the artists themselves are struggling with a lack of basic arts materials, in addition to the other general shortages and problems of a wrecked country trying to put itself together again. We wish them luck in their new endeavour; Lumeh can be heard on the BBC’s World Service radio on the Network Africa strand in the Arts on Africa Today programme.
(“We Thank You For Putting Liberia First”, a cartoon Leslie Lumeh, with text by A. Fallah Brown, borrowed from the Liberian Observer)