18 July 2018

New displays of African collections: Aso-oke, a Celebration of Style & Townships Journeys

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery are delighted to present two new displays highlighting rich and evolving fashion and identity practices in Africa. These displays have been co-curated with researchers from the African diaspora who live in Sussex. They are part of the Object Journeys Fashioning Africa project in partnership with the British Museum.

On display are post 1960’s textiles and garments collected as part of the Fashioning Africa project, historic African textiles and beadwork from Brighton Museum’s collections and objects on loan from the British Museum. Four films accompany the displays. These feature in-depth interviews with the curators, footage of the production of aso-oke fabric and of some of the displayed outfits in use.

The displays have been co-curated by Edith Ojo, Tshepo Skwambane and world art collection staff, and supported by the British Museum. Through the process of co-curation, Edith and Tshepo have shared their cultural knowledge, expertise and experiences of growing up in Africa, to provide new interpretations for the displays and to breathe new life into historic African objects.
Edith Ojo with the Aso-Oke display (c) RPMAG

Aso-oke, a Celebration of Style, curated by Edith, showcases aso-oke fabric and fashion and reflects Edith’s rich Yoruba, Nigerian heritage and the role aso-oke plays in this. She states “It says party, that’s what aso-oke says to me. I love the spectacle and performance that surrounds aso-oke. It’s so culturally vibrant and constantly evolving.”

Tshepo Skwambane with Township Journeys (c) RPMAG

Township Journeys, curated by Tshepo Skwambane, demonstrates the important role that fashion and identity played for black South Africans living in townships. The display reflects Tshepo’s childhood experiences growing up in a township during apartheid, and the rich cultural mix of people he encountered there. He states “I want to challenge and dismantle stereotypes about Africa and Africans. Apartheid enforced separate and defined communities, but you can’t stop interaction between people and ideas.” 


Fashioning Africa is a Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures project. With the support of a collecting panel, Brighton Museum has been able to acquire new objects that reflect post-1960 African fashion identities.

This display is part of Object Journeys, a national programme run by the British Museum and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It supports community partners to research and explore museum collections and create new displays in response to this investigation.

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