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Ibrahim Mahama

Purple Hibiscus

ibrahim mahama installation on the barbican lakeside facade

A new artwork by Ibrahim Mahama transforms our Lakeside Terrace, enveloping the building’s iconic concrete walls with approximately 2000 square metres of bespoke woven cloth.

Purple Hibiscus has been created in collaboration with hundreds of craftspeople from Tamale in Ghana where the colossal panels of pink and purple fabric have been woven and sewn by hand, to be fitted to the brutalist planes of our building.

100 ‘batakaris’ – robes worn by Ghanaian kings – are embroidered onto the artwork. Often saved by families over generations, these precious textiles carry the imprints of the figures they once clothed, signifying the continued relevance of intergenerational knowledge. Ibrahim Mahama holds a deep interest in the life cycles of textiles and what can be learnt from the historical memories embedded within them.

Purple Hibiscus is part of Unravel: The Power & Politics of Textiles in Art.

The commission has been made possible by Tia Collection with Associate Sponsor: Culture Mile BID. Additional generous support from The Ampersand Foundation and The African Arts Trust

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Creating Purple Hibiscus

ibrahim mahama stands in front of barbican wall

Ibrahim Mahama on making Purple Hibiscus

We asked the artist behind the work where his inspiration came from, how his collaborative practice works, and why he strayed away from the usual earthy tones of previous work to something so bright and vibrant.

See how the fabric was made

Watch footage of the making of Purple Hibiscus in Tamale where hundreds of craftspeople around Ghana wove the fabric by hand.

Courtesy of Ibrahim Mahama. Filming by OBL Studios, Tamale, Ernest Sackitey and Red Clay, Tamale.