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Tribal Art London 2017 - Mall Galleries

Event preview

TRIBAL Art London at the Mall Galleries (September 6 – 9) opens the busy autumn art fair season in the UK’s capital city. The only fair of its kind in the UK and an important focal point for collectors, Tribal Art London is celebrating 10 years and it’s largest-ever showing, with 23 exhibitors.

Attracting the international art scene, the fair offers an exciting diversity of works for sale, priced from the low hundreds to over £20,000.

Tribal artefacts, like dance masks and abstract woven works, make a striking complement to modern and contemporary artworks, and they appeal to fledgling and seasoned art buyers alike. There is also a growing interest amongst younger buyers who have embraced body adornment and tattooing, a tradition of significance for many peoples.

Tribal Art London hosts lectures on subjects relating to indigenous cultures and this year, talks on Saturday, September 9 will focus on the history and development of tribal tattoos; Dr Karen Jacobs of the University of East Anglia will reveal the skills of Fijian and South Pacific tattoo traditions, and Martin Poole, an expert in the technique of hand-worked body art, will be giving live demonstrations.

Alongside private art collectors, institutions such as the British Museum and the Royal Academy attend Tribal Art London, as well as curators from the Quai Branly tribal arts museum of Paris, and the National Gallery of Australia. Decorators including Chester Jones and Ross Lovegrove (both UK), actor Griff Rhys Jones, and natural history legend Sir David Attenborough are regular visitors.

Highlights at the Fair include:

A bold Ligbi mask from Ivory Coast; this highly anthropomorphic face mask from the Ligbi people is carved in wood, with pigments, cloth and fibres measuring 30cm in height, and comes with a prestigious provenance, offered by new exhibitor Mark Eglinton of New York. (Price in the region of $16 000 USD).

An impressive, deeply carved 19th century Zulu prestige lidded vessel from KwaZulu, South Africa. Wooden vessels such as these were the preserve of chiefs. Offered by Marcuson & Hall (Price in the region of £13,500).

Weigh to gold – a brass weight, 18th or 19th century made by the Ashante of Akan, Ghana, for weighing gold, depicting a traditional hunter with a leopard on his back. There was a rich tradition in Ghana of making gold weights since 17th century. Formerly in the Seward Kennedy collection, London, it is offered by Bryan Reeves/Tribal Gathering (£750).

An exceptional and early Douala chief’s stool from Cameroon, with wonderful carved animal figures, dating to the 19th century, offered by Adam Ethnographic Art (priced at £1,800).

A remarkable early survivor of the Nasca era in Peru, a highly colourful feather skirt dating to around the 4th to 6th century CE (AD) offered by Joss Graham Gallery.

A fine C19th Mahdi tunic, known as a Jibba, made in Sudan. This would have belonged to a high ranking leader in the Mahdist army and probably dates to the period just after the fall of Khartoum. A museum-quality piece; a similar example is in the British Museum. Offered by Adam Ethnographic Art (£17,000).

Entry is free, as are the talks and lectures. Opening times vary. Please visit for full details.

Mall Galleries, London, SW1