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1-54 Returns to London This Month and It’s Bigger Than Ever

1-54 Returns to London This Month and It’s Bigger Than Ever

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Art lovers, unite. 1-54, the biggest contemporary African art fair is back in London this October and there’s plenty on the palette. Get ready for performances, monumental sculptures, talks with artists, performances, monumental sculptures and a whole lotta beautiful art.

Dedicated to art from Africa and its diaspora, 1-54 returns to Somerset House from the 13th-16th of October. 

Showcasing works from 130 artists from Africa and the continent’s diaspora, expect all sorts of contemporary painting, sculpture and funky other things in mixed media. 

There’ll be pieces by well established names like Ibrahim El-Salahi, Hassan Hajjaj, and Zanele Muholi (whose recent exhibition at the Tate Modern was a sell-out) as well as young up-and-comers like Sola Olulode and Pedro Neves.

It’s also 1-54’s tenth anniversary and so they’re going big (obviously)… so there’ll be 50 exhibiting galleries coming from metropolises that give even our fair city a run for its money in the art department joining this year’s show. 

Yes, it’s going to be epic. 

So, What is the 1-54 Art Fair Exactly? 

Galerie Carole Kvasnevski - Zanele Muholi, Cwazimula, ISGM, Boston
Zanele Muholi, Cwazimula, ISGM, Boston, 2019, Baryta print, 60 x 45.7 cm, Edition of 8 +2AP.Courtesy of Galerie Carole Kvasnevski.

1-54 is the first and only art fair to focus solely on art from Africa and African people around the world. It began in 2013 and grew and grew and before you know it, boom: it’s become the world’s most successful African art fair. 

In the past ten years they’ve added events in New York, Marrakech, and have become a calendar event for us, and of course all art fair fanatics across the city. 

1-54: The Highlights

Grada Kilomba, O Barco The Boat, 2021, Performance and Installation view at MAAT Lisbon for BoCA, 2021. Photo by Bruno Simão. Courtesy of the Artist.
Grada Kilomba’s O Barco, at MAAT Lisbon for BoCA, 2021 | Photo by Bruno Simão, Courtesy of the Artist

Don’t miss the Somerset House courtyard’s centrepiece – the highly acclaimed O Barco by Grada Kilomba.

The 32-meter long installation shapes the outline of a slave ship in burnt wooden blocks. 

The charred blocks are inscribed with poems in six languages to challenge Europe’s history of colonisation. Even more impressive, the installation is accompanied by music and dance performances alongside it. 

And it’s not just art, 1-54 aims to stimulate discussion by hosting a series of talks, screenings and workshops with artists and creators involved in the show – including Koyo Kouoh (director of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, Africa) and Tinie Tempah (rapper) to name a few. 

You can find out more about the forum here

See you there folks. 

Practical Tips for Visiting the 1-54 Art Fair London


1-54 is open from 11am- 6pm on the 13th October for a VIP and press day. And  10am – 7pm from the 14th – 16th for the public. O Barco is there until the 19th October, with performances on two select days – Thursday, 13 October (17:00-18:00) and Friday, 14 October (13:00-14:00)


Somerset house on the Strand a short walk from Temple or Holborn underground stations. Embankment is a slightly longer, but very pleasant stroll away.


You can book tickets online through Somerset house’s website here

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair: Map 

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