1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’s London edition goes ahead

Prince Gyasi, Crumple Zone, 2019. Courtesy Nil Gallery
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Updated 02 August 2020

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’s London edition goes ahead

  • A scaled-down version of the event will be held at Somerset House in October

DUBAI: In a year that has been marked by cancelations, some good news has arrived for the art world. The popular 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will return to London for an eighth edition at its regular spot in Somerset House.

“The decision to go ahead with 1-54 London this coming October started first with the enthusiasm of our galleries to participate in a physical art fair followed by the announcement of the UK regulations regarding trade fairs going back to normal starting the 1st of October,” fair director and founder, Touria El Glaoui, told Arab News.

Born and raised in Morocco, after beginning a career in the banking industry and working as a wealth management consultant, she founded the annual 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in 2013 as a way of consolidating the rich art scenes on the African continent and generated by the African diaspora. The fair now has three annual editions in London, New York and Marrakech.




Ekene Maduka, After Hours, 2019. Courtesy Polartics

Alongside a scaled-down version of the fair presenting 20 international galleries — about half the amount of last year’s event — the fair will also show online in partnership with Christie’s.

The collaboration reveals Christie’s commitment to presenting contemporary African art to their global client base. Selected works from the fair will be exhibited in Christie’s King Street galleries throughout October.

“1-54 has become a definitive moment in London’s art calendar, and we are delighted and proud to partner with this fair,” said Dirk Boll, president, Christie’s Europe, Middle East, Russia and India, in a statement.

“Together we will provide a ground-breaking platform that allows participating galleries to showcase more artists and more artworks, thus continuing the fair’s ever-expanding capabilities for bringing the very best contemporary African art to an international audience,” he said.




Prince Gyasi, Humility, 2019. Courtesy Nil Gallery

The fair will once again be accompanied by 1-54 Forum, its extensive program of artists’ talks, film screenings and panel discussions that will be curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba from C& and take place both at Somerset House and online.

“We are very excited to go ahead with our 8th edition at Somerset House, but of course monitoring very closely all new changes that could impact our galleries and making sure we stay very flexible,” El Glaoui said.

Visitors will need to comply with 1-54’s health and safety measures implemented in collaboration with Somerset House and in compliance with UK regulations.




Benji Reid, Moon on a Cloud, 2019. Courtesy October Gallery

Strict sanitary measures will be in place to ensure everyone’s health and security, including a one-way circuit through the fair, time-slot ticketing and VIP access system, which visitors need to pre-book online. The fair will provide hand sanitizer, cleaning measures, hands-free systems and limited capacity control at all times.

In September the fair will announce full details of its safety measures and visitor experiences. A list of participating galleries will also be announced then.


‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone’: Edgy new abaya label sparks demand with limited drops

Updated 19 September 2020

‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone’: Edgy new abaya label sparks demand with limited drops

DUBAI: If one were to describe The Cap Project’s designs in a few words, “a mix of couture and streetwear” would be most fitting. Equal parts luxurious and edgy, the Dubai-based label is not your average abaya brand.

Founded in 2017 by an anonymous local design duo hailing from the UAE, the rising brand is coveted for its modern take on the Emirati woman’s sartorial staple by way of deconstructed tailoring, oversized silhouettes and a vibrant color palette, making it anything but the traditional black abaya.  

The womenswear brand was born after the designer’s couldn’t find what they were looking for in the market. Supplied

Like many fashion lines,  the contemporary womenswear brand was born after the designer’s couldn’t find what they were looking for in the market. So, they decided to make it. “Our designs are basically pieces that we would want to be seen in,” explained one half of the design duo, who choose to remain anonymous, to Arab News. 

This translates into comfortable, day-friendly abayas and luxurious chiffon overlays with matching shaylas that are perfect for nighttime with a little jewelry and the right pair of heels. 

Meanwhile, the brand’s newest collection for September 2020 has more of a utilitarian feel to it. Think buckles, oversized pockets, military green colorways and magnetic closures. “We like to push the envelope in terms of our designs,” stated the reclusive designer.

The Cap Project draws its name from its unique “capping” business model. Supplied

However, not everyone can get their hands on the brand’s highly-sought-after pieces.  

In fact, The Cap Project draws its name from its unique “capping” business model, which is a retail concept that entails producing limited pieces for purchase. The brand, which takes orders through Whatsapp, has an Instagram Stories highlights dedicated solely to the items that have been “capped” so that their clients know what’s out of stock. 

The drops are limited to pieces of three, six and eleven. Supplied

The idea, the designer explains, is that they “just want girls to feel like they have something exclusive and that’s just for them.”

It’s also an ethical component of the brand. The drops are limited to pieces of three, six and eleven, reducing waste and increasing personalization.  

And once an item is out of stock, even if there’s a demand, the designers will not produce more. Or, in the creative designer’s words: “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”