At the start of October 2019, arts platform House of African Art (HAART) organised a week long exhibition in Copeland Gallery, titled Seeing Sounds. 

The show explored the relationship between sound and visual art, recognising the powerful influence sound and music have on creativity. The exhibition featured work by five visual artists; Derrick Ofosu Boateng, Emmanuel Unaji, Euan Roberts, Moufouli Bello and Williams Chechet. Following the successful show, we caught up with the founder of HAART, Maryam Lawal.

Tell us about your event at Copeland Park

HAART is a combined arts platform, so in the day we created an immersive experience with a selection of subtle sounds playing in the gallery, and in the evenings we had a series of talks, live poetry and musicians complimenting the overall theme.

When did you set up HAART and what was the idea behind it?

I set up HAART in April 2018 shortly after a trip to Lagos in Nigeria, where I’m originally from. Artists from Africa and the diaspora are still largely underrepresented on an international level. One of the main aims of HAART is to provide a platform for the truly talented, innovative artists of African descent by giving them greater exposure, recognition and support for their work. Secondly, I think the traditional art gallery experience is out-of-date and in need of a revival. HAART aims to break away from the traditional gallery model with pop-up exhibitions and events where people can truly engage with the artwork, the exhibition theme, and properly understand the works on display. Drawing on the concept of a house, HAART also aims to create a more welcoming, inclusive environment in the visual arts.

This was your second event, how did it differ from the first?

In a number of ways: we had a different theme, different artists, a different line up of evening events and a different atmosphere!

Our exhibition in March was held at Hoxton Arches in East London and it was called The Next Wave: The Power of Authenticity and Self-Validation. In that show both HAART and the artwork aimed to generate fresh, new perspectives on artistic talent coming from the continent. We aimed to encourage people to celebrate the vitality and vibrancy of their cultures and their national heritage.

Seeing Sounds was an exploration of the relationship between sound and visual art. We brought in academic professors of music psychology to talk about this theme alongside the visual artists and had some incredible musicians and spoken word poets come in to perform live in the gallery.

Do you tend to use the same artists in multiple shows or always new ones?

Our approach here varies. For our show at Hoxton Arches we worked with six artists, however at Copeland Gallery we worked with five, and only one of them was in our Hoxton show. We receive a lot of requests from artists to have their work shown on the platform, and similarly, there are a wide number of artists whose work we find inspiring, that’s why it is important for us to try and work with different artists while developing relationships with artists whose work we’ve shown in the past.

Which other Copeland Park events have you visited?

I’ve come to a number of exhibitions at Copeland Gallery and also one that was held at Unit 8 during Photo London. I think it’s a great space so it’s always interesting to see how other curators and gallerists have used it for their show.

Why did you choose Copeland Gallery for your event?

I think it is a really unique exhibition space. I was immediately drawn to it when I first visited. One thing I particularly like about the gallery is the contrast between the exposed concrete on the floor and the rustic ceilings, and then the professional white walls of the gallery.

The artists featured in this article from top to bottom are: Moufouli Bello & Williams Chechet

To see what HAART are up to next and which artists they will be exhibiting, subscribe to their mailing list or follow HAART on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.