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Ghana's Meshack Asare Is First African Winner Of NSK Neustadt Children's Literature Prize

Ghana's Meshack Asare wins the 2015 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature for his book, 'Kwajo and the Brassman's Secret.'


Ghanaian children's book author Meshack Asare has been announced as the winner of the 2015 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature. The prolific author and illustrator, whose victory marks the first time an African writer has walked away with the prestigious prize since its inception in 2003, beat out six other finalists to take home the $25,000 award. Asare's win was announced last Friday (Oct. 24) at a banquet event co-hosted by World Literature Daily and the University of Oklahoma.

Born in Nyankumasi, Ghana, in 1945, Asare began his literary career by illustrating books for his author friends while studying Fine Art at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. In an interview with WorldReader, Asare explained that his decision to begin writing came after noticing a dearth of characters in children's literature that African boys and girls could identify with:

These books had little stories and poems, Jack and Jill fetching water and that sort of thing. They were influential in the sense that they showed me what other children did, how they lived, and what kinds of things were around them. But I could not connect them to my own environment or experience. I thought it would be great to have a book about things that I, too, could recognize. [...] It is essential for children, especially children in developing countries, to be helped by every means possible to be able to read, to have books to read, and to have books that tell them about themselves.

Asare was nominated for the prize by fellow Ghanaian writer and NSK Prize juror Nii Ayikwei Parkes. Parkes also selected Asare's award-winning book, Kwajo and The Brassman's Secret, as the representative work from the iconic children's author to be sent into competition. First published in 1981, Kwajo and The Brassman's Secret follows the titular character as he navigates a fantasy land steeped in Ashanti folklore where he must decide between wisdom and material wealth. In the wake of the announcement, Asare remarked, "It is such a privilege, honor, and delight to receive the distinguished NSK Neustadt Prize for my modest contribution as an African, towards Children’s Literature." In addition to the monetary prize, Asare will receive a silver medallion, a certificate of recognition and a literary festival hosted in his honor.

The NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature recognizes excellence in children's storytelling and is awarded biennially to any writer or illustrator worldwide whose work seeks to improve the quality of children's lives.

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Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at Christies.com. And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery


The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019


1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."


Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957


Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:

Galleries

31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

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