Why has the Barbican been wrapped in pink cloth?

Ibrahim Mahama has draped the Barbican Centre in vast reams of pink fabric. It’s a super-colourful new installation that’s part of the Barbican’s recent ‘Unravel’ textile exhibition. The huge 2,000 square metre work was produced in the city of Tamale in Ghana, where Mahama is based, by a team of 1000 weavers and seamstresses, all working by hand in the city’s stadium. 

‘It started as a joke,’ Mahama told the Guardian in reference to the use of pink. ‘I thought, “The British weather is always very grey, why not pick a colour that contrasts with the sky?”’ The work is also covered in traditional Ghanaian robes called Batakaris, which Mahama bartered with locals for, offering them new ones in exchange for their used clothes. ‘They don’t just give it to you like that,’ he says. ‘Some of them will have to pee on it first because they believe that pee or human excrement is a way of desacralising the material.’

The ultra-bright colours are a step away from Mahama’s usual approach to textiles, which sees him reusing old jute sacks previously used for transporting cocoa, but the brightness is no less full of narrative and ideas. And it’s helped cheer up this drizzly city no end.

Ibrahim Mahama: ‘Purple Hibiscus’ is at the Barbican until Aug 18. Free. More details here.

Want more art? Here are the top 10 art exhibitions in London.

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