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Larry Achiampong, What I Hear I Keep, 2021

CIRCA:
Do you have any memories of Piccadilly Circus?

LARRY ACHIAMPONG:
If I’m honest with you, my memories of Piccadilly Circus, like much of the West End, are kind of read through the lens of that of someone doing, you know, DOING labouring work. As I explained earlier, as a child I assisted my mum with cleaning jobs that she had to do. She had a condition with her back and so it meant that she wasn’t able to do certain things. And so, it was important that me and my siblings helped her. And so, I would, we would, travel through the area of West London, whether very early or at night-time, so it was always dark. And so, when passing through a place like Piccadilly Circus, you know, those lights really just were quite captivating in a way. There’s nothing, I don’t think there’s anything like it in London even to this day and age, kind of thinking, I don’t know, 25 or more years later. There were, you know, friends of like I guess the higher points of working-class in comparison to my own who would travel into the West End quite regularly and talk about this place like it was some kind of mythical legend, you know. So, I feel like those kind of memories of myth. But then also the reality, my own reality, of migration, of the harshness relating to class. Those kind of memories are peaked when considering Piccadilly Circus.

Larry Achiampong, Pan African Flag for the Relic Travellers' Alliance, 2018

After a number of months successfully flying above the South Wing of Somerset House, this artwork and the Somerset House flag pole were both blown over by high winds in early January 2018. Therefore for the month of February the flag is instead on display indoors in the New Wing above reception while the South Wing flag pole is in the process of being replaced.

The design features 54 stars representative of the 54 countries of Africa, whilst the colour green reflects its land, black its people and red is a reminder of the struggles the continent has endured. The field of yellow gold presents a new day and prosperity. Achiampong has configured these Pan African colours and symbols into a form suggestive of a human figure in flight; an Afrofuturistic icon moving towards unity and equilibrium.

This artwork is a commission by Somerset House and an extension of Achiampong’s new multidisciplinary science-fiction project based around his character of the Relic Traveller, a Pan African Unionist of the future whose quest is the collection of fragmented data that has been strewn across the planet that relates to lost African history – especially that which connects the African diaspora.

Larry Achiampong is a British-Ghanian artist whose practice employs iconography, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas of cross-cultural and post-digital identity. Achiampong was one of the first residents to join Somerset House Studios, Somerset House’s artist workspace, on its launch in 2016.