Sierra Leone, akin to any coastal nation with a complex history of trade and cross-cultural marriage, is home to a multitude of fashion, art and design forms. However, like many locations lagging in modern socio-economic development indices, Sierra Leone's culture of exhibition art is young and un-nurtured.
Labrum London is the child of design genius Foday Dumbuya whose primary inspiration and exhibition location is necessarily Sierra Leone. What this has meant for the country's creative community is continued curiosity and inspiration.
Labrum's work reminds us that design is a product of paradigm. Those of the diaspora-home community are afforded imaginations that are constantly stretched and evolving encompassing culture accumulated and mashed together during periodic migration. By coming and going in between spaces, that are themselves a part of our increasingly globalizing world, diaspora-home artists are not limited to simply the European-gaze nor the pan-African-gaze, and even further, a gaze localised to any one state. Rather theirs is a gaze in what Bhabha might term a liminal gaze, what I will call the third gaze.
Last week, Labrum curated an exhibition of photography and installations contextualising its collections over the last 2 years. What I attended was the storytelling of some of the globe's most complex migration stories as migrants see themselves, not as stagnation does.
It is through the exhibition and the discussions it provokes that perhaps those staying may speculate on what precisely shapes the culture, mentality, problems and ambitions of those of the third gaze.