Clement Kofi Athey and Carol McNicoll

Two more souvenirs. The jug by Clement Kofi Athey, known as ĎKofií, is a by-product of colonial power relations. In 1943 Kofi came to work as a labourer at a tile works set up by the British government in what was then the Gold Coast. There he was befriended by the British potter Michael Cardew. When the project failed in 1945 Kofi went with Cardew to Vume on the Volta River. From then on Kofiís life was not his own. Cardew saw Kofi as a muse, who would help him realise his dream of a new kind of African pottery, first at Vume, then at Abuja and at Jos, both in Nigeria. Kofiís modest jug embodies an unequal friendship. It also stands for the anti-modern fantasies visited on British West Africa during the colonial period. I bought it in a sale in London. Carol McNicollís jug was given to me by its maker. If Kofiís jug has a tragic dimension, McNicollís is replete with irony. It is an absurdist object that mocks both industrial production and the high-minded seriousness of the studio pottery movement. McNicoll is a ĎBritishí potter but more accurately she is Irish and Scottish. Much of her work comments on colonialism and neo-colonialism. Set side by side these two jugs make a new, unsettling art work, a still life that reflects on the displaced.     

Tanya Harrod

Clement Kofi Athey (b. 1922 Ghana, d. 199?) was a potter and lived in Nigeria and Ghana.
Carol McNicoll (b. 1943 United Kingdom) is a potter and lives in London.




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