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Ancestral Awakening (Poster with Poem)

Made by Fowokan George Kelly in 1980

The 'Ancestral Awakening' is a silk-screen poster, printed by a collective in Brixton, London in 1980.


In the context of the 1970s and 1980s, there was a Pan-Africanist trend in terms of Rastafarianism and Garveyism and the philosophy of 'return to Africa'; the poster with poem was designed within that concept of returning to the ancestral home of Africa. As a Black person in those days there was no other philosophy to look to unless you simply followed the mainstream.


The poster was designed to be printed by myself (Fowokan) using hand-cut screens; that's why the design is mainly linear which was simple for cutting the printing screen. Later on I moved to more sophisticated silk screen printing processes but for the most part they were made using hand-cut screens. The grid-lines are lines of infinity - from an infinitive past to an infinite future; the naked male figure with locks represents the 'priestly' ancestors, being the only ones who were allowed to wear locks within traditional African society.

Fowokan (2024)

£400 plus vat (unframed), the original silk-screen poster/print, 1980, 75 x 50 cm, signed (limited number available).

Contact the gallery for further information and to purchase.

Fowokan George Kelly

b. 1943, Kingston, Jamaica
Lives and works in London, England

Born in Kingston Jamaica, Fowokan migrated to the UK in 1957, attending secondary school in Brixton where, among his teachers, was Stuart Hall (the late Professor). He became a sculptor after working as a musician, playing with several bands, including Symande. Whilst working as Jimmy Cliff’s sound engineer on his first tour of Nigeria, Fowokan encountered the wealth of sculptures from Benin and Nok. Returning to London, he decided to give up music and taught himself sculpting techniques. As his work gained attention and the quality of his technique improved, he adopted the Yoruba name, ‘Fowokan’, meaning ‘one who works with his hands’.


Fowokan has exhibited widely including in the iconic group exhibitions of Black British Artists of the 1980s and 1990s and in their important group exhibition held at the Guildhall Art Gallery in 2015. By Invitation, Fowokan became a member of the Society of Portrait Sculptors, exhibiting in their annual exhibitions, as well as that of annual summer exhibitions held at the Royal Academy. Among his international exhibitions are the Cuban Biennale and the Studio Museum Harlem. Fowokan's works are in held in private and public collections in the UK, Europe and the US.


Fowokan also expresses his creativity through poetry, prose, photography and videography. His writings have been published and vignettes of his video documentaries have been shown on BBC Breakfast with several on YouTube. His works have featured on television: BBC (Artsnight 2014 and When I came to Britain part 4: 2004) and Chanel 4 (The Empire Pays Back 2005).

The biography Becoming Fowokan: The Life and Works of Fowokan George Kelly, by Margaret Andrews, was published in January 2022.

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