Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Mental Health | My Story

Mind Matters | AFRICAN JOE

Expelled Again
Joe Pollitt | the African 'ShoeShiner'
Somerset House
African Art Fair 1:54
Magnin-A Gallery
London, 2017
Photo by Serge Clottey

So I see my therapist and tell him all about the wonders of Voodoo, how I want to join the Gays and take over the world, how African I am, we all come from Africa, surely he must know that. He, himself is Sudanese and been to South Sudan but declared to me he'd never been to Africa and the more I speak the more I can see his eyes widening, like the cat that got the cream. I tell him about my failing shoeshining business and how the Police wont let me SHINE. How I need his help to take down the UN as Aid is killing my beloved AFRICA, which I went to see off my own bat, went to Uganda, spent a small fortunate to see the AID CRISIS for myself and have evidence of the lack of Development in the North and East of the country where those living there, live under the most horrendous conditions of Underdevelopment and lack of care by their supposed Government that is being supported by the Americans and people like ourselves. The Ugandan Government actually pay CNN to never show the world the true story of those inside the country because for Corporate America, Uganda is big money, the people are just a nuisance. I have photographic and video evidence to back this up. Any NGO in Uganda has to sign an agreement that they will not speak badly about them, otherwise they are unable to establish themselves. They are effectively silenced, meaning that any NGO in Uganda are "African Haters" and only interested in dipping their filthy paws into the honey pot that is "AID". I could not believe it, it made me so angry I wanted to explode. The Africans are being used to create "AID", human sacrifice on a huge scale. War and man-made famines, these are pushing up the prices and bringing in "AID" and the UN is happy, job done. They laugh at the "C130 Runners", as they call them, these are my AFRICANS, whole families, starving desperately running after the only chance they have of staying alive. They are running to catch a C-130 Super Hercules military Aid plane, which is filled with just two pallets of GMO American rice for photographers to shoot to say, "LOOK, WE'RE Saving Africa", no, you're helping yourselves and nobody else and the world should fucking well know about this. A UN spokesman in Uganda telling me, Joe Pollitt the Freedom Writer, how to write about Africa, and in his plummy Norfolk voice instructing me to write it as if it where my Mother or Grandmother fleeing a famine. Well I wont write it like that, I will write like this. "I heard from the Red Cross the work is so stressful you fizzle after 3 to 4 years. So Charlie, how many years can you do this before you just burn out?" I asked to which he answered, "I'm here until I retire. Best job ever." My blood is boiling and I am not unwell, I am perfectly fine. The Press is selling us all an extremely skewed version of the truth. The pathetic so-called journalists are just re-writing UN press releases, all too worried never to work again if they do their jobs correctly, especially about Africa, they avoid it like the plague. I can show you all, I've been there and bought the t-shirt but in this Mental Unit in Royal Tunbridge Wells, they don't believe me, well who would? I have a stamp in my Passport that says otherwise. I have an Ugandan Press Pass, not for just Kampala for the entire country, which clearly states I'm a freelance journalist, working for the UNHCR and I can tell you all, Save the Children, UNICEF the whole bloody lot of them, are just putting up their flags and nothing has been done. Money has somehow got lost in the post.

Back in the Mental Home, it's a prison not a home, it is structured like the cells in every Police Station I have had the joy of staying in and eating their shitty breakfasts. This place makes me nervous because I know what they can do. I am physically ill and shocked to the core as we speak about the voices on the radio, which I think are talking to me about Mental Health on BBC Radio 1 (but it was on the radio, BBC1 it wasn't my imagination, my hearing voices, come on, it has been advertised, it's clearly underneath this's real not imagined), I'm kidding about the voices go away when I'm not in the car because to me, this pretend system too, is broken. Looking into Dr El Misery PhD's excited quizzing eyes set behind gold rimmed, round Gandhi-style glasses, I proudly talk about creating my own language, which nobody seems to understand, apples and stairs meaning, "Bus Fares" and how I adore writing to myself on Facebook, well I do, this to me is therapy but the Facebook Police have already come after me on a post about a Guggenheim Museum, can't even mention the American Photographer's fucking name on this platform and have to say "Robert Mapplesyrup" to disguise who I really mean. All that I've shown the world has been deleted by the Internet Police, the White Knights of Google, Yahoo, Sony, Apple, Bill and Melinda Gates, the Guggenheim's of this world, to save the face of this disgraceful Museum. I was arrested on suspicion of being a pedophile, my house broken into by seven Policemen and women, humiliated on my street, publicly destroyed and made a mockery of, thanks Facebook, like I needed that. Please excuse me whilst I just take a deep breath and start to laugh out loud for real. Thank my lucky stars that nobody reads my silly posts but I love the craft of writing and playing with the most powerful weapon we have on earth, our words and our letters. With them we can change every system and point out the rotten apples, and there are many.

Back to the Mental Wellness Institution. The "Doctor" looks at me with such delight, licking his lips, you can imagine his surprise when I share my life story with him, he just thought, he doesn't tick the boxes, goody, goody, gumdrops (we have a complete nutta in our midst) and of course he wants to keep me in for further investigations and wishes me a "speedy recovery"....Dr Ahmed El Misery PhD....(Prof. Uck-Med El Misery PhD), Just my luck, you can't make this shit up! Luke Dunn show this to the Mayor. The Institutions set up for Mental Health are failing to understand their patients lives are not the same as theirs and fail to come to grips with others, in just suggesting this I put myself in danger because the system is built around the thinking that the world is insane. They have built this lawless, uncontrolled, drug pushing system around that very concept and it is not in their interest to listen to anybody, they simply don't have to because they are the "Doctors" with PhD certificates, glorious paperwork, just the ticket and they know best, so butt out for speaking. The Institution is simply bogus, more fraud than Freud as all they seem to want to do is medicate those that speak out and send them all to sleep. "We want Zombies", they seem to be shouting but they can give me the expensive medication but I want to stay awake, that is my dream! Some live extraordinary lives, unbelievable lives but when facing the inside looking out, it is absolutely terrifying and I've been in a Kenyan remand prison, just outside Nairobi for not giving bribes to Policemen, so I know exactly what terrifying looks like. Letter ends: Finally, please feel free to bring a family member or friend with you for support and assistance. Yours sincerely....l am in a personal Hell as they are about to duff me up for my own protection, kick and punch me in face for my security and squeeze my balls for my well-being. They seem extremely keen to break my nose and detach my eye balls for what they like to call a full Mental Health check up. Did I mention the electric shocks on my feet and fingertips, what a buzz! I really don't have any mental health issues but suddenly I to them am "Christmas Pudding" come early. I am a 47 year old man, I am not a boy anymore and it is my duty as a man to do my job. Be proud of supporting the underdog, the African, proud enough to say I am one because that is the side of the fence I want to stand by and just like the educational system that teaches Africans to hate themselves, it is so flawed it is broken, set up to keep the wealthy in their seats of power. This is Biblical and just like Samson, I too want to take down the pillars and expose all that is going on. Do all that I can to make others comprehend that a British System is a Broken System in every respect and I am ashamed. (Nobody is gonna Publish this Joe, it's all in your wild IMAGINATION!) So declare me insane and be done with me. "Minds Matter"....who is really behind this? None other than our Dutiful Royals, off I jolly well trot, spoiling all their fun as they giggle at us "nuttas" out here in the real world, rubbing their hands with glee, jog on! I have absolutely no respect for those that have made their money through the blood, sweat and death of so many Africans. Tell me now, WHO IS FUCKING MENTAL?

Joe Pollitt from the Guardian Newspaper London 29/11/2017

Thursday, 23 November 2017


Untitled, POWERLESS by Joe Pollitt

I am screaming at you. POWERLESS. We have no voice, we have nothing now. We are killing ourselves and are just too busy to notice. Africa is King, she is a lioness so let us hear her roar. The youngest Continent on earth looks healthier than ever, as we in the West rot in our own White sickness.

"Oh look, there is always one!" I heard the Whites say last night, well I AM THE ONE! We are a world divided. Black and White, it is that simple. As I listen to Conservative Ministers talking to the first time buyers, those Ministers with property portfolios are daring to generously give them tax breaks, what a joke. Corporations are slowly taking over countries. The high street is full of empty buildings and those homeless are there in their numbers, sitting begging for a fix and a sense of belonging. "Spare any change mister? BIG ISSUE! Please mister, give me money for more drugs, help me to kill myself, I am begging you. BIG ISSUE!" Turning themselves into the ghosts of London Town. We are witnessing the death of Retail, as we busy ourselves shopping online for more bargains. The Council can no longer afford the electricity for the Christmas lights, they will soon become Ebay Lights on Oxford Street and Amazon Lights on Regents Street as they turn Christmas into a business, the sick-Mother-fuckers, cunt-suckers and we watch, powerless to do anything. I hate your Whiteness, your greedy thinking, your off-shoring and creative accountancy, what is mine, is mine mentality. I hate the skin I am just doesn't suit me.

Joe Pollitt, 2017


Thursday, 15 June 2017


Here is a poem I wrote for me dear friend Danne Van Cleve-Norton over in Las Vagas.

Danne Flying High

You to me are like the long awaited rains and
as your goodness falls so the land responds.
Nothing can grow without you. You are my constant.
You are like the glorious smell of just cut lawns.
That fresh wild scent of happiness found and
the splendid joy of seeing in brand new beginnings.

You lift me up when I am down and go that extra mile.
For that and for so much more, I am forever grateful.
You shower your light on the darkest of corners searching
to find those hidden meanings in all things worth knowing.
Never change, you are perfection and loved just the way you
are. You are kind, loving, caring but most of all you are true.

Those agonizing days when stupidity wins and reason is
rejected you are there, to battle out the issues and to comfort.
Like the seasons you are constant. Constantly evolving.
Finding new reasons to wake and explore some more.
You supported me when others turned their backs.
I just wanted to write and say. You’re the best bird in the sky.

JP. 2017

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Serge Clottey by Joe Pollitt

New Ways of Seeing Art / Culture

By Joe Pollitt
(In Tunbridge Wells – United Kingdom)

Today begins an ongoing debate about life in Ghana, the first country on the Continent to gain Independence, back in 1957. Spearheaded by the artist, Serge Clottey, along with an entourage of fellow artists from Labadi, Nima and elsewhere in Accra, Gallery 1957 is opening its doors to the public at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City.

The aim of the project is to pioneer new ways of seeing Art and the purpose of culture to any society. Unlike the previous generations of Post Colonial artists from Africa, those that were given scholarships and awards to educate themselves in various European art colleges like the Slade, the Royal Academy, the International Art College or Ecole Beaux Art Superiore in Paris, we are now beginning to see a change like never before. The artists are choosing to turn their backs on the more formal training from the West and preferring to exercise something far more organic, original and home-grown, pulling from every aspect found in their proud indigenous cultures and remaking what is considered art in West Africa as a stamp for the International Art Community to look toward.

This is developing a certain shift in the global mindset towards the Continent. There is suddenly a need for a re-education and a greater understanding of the purpose and meaning of Art. Through a series of unique and authentic installations, works of art and performances, the gallery is setting an impressive standard for others to follow.

Serge Attukwei Clottey has gained international recognition via the Internet and through his travels overseas with his works focusing on the yellow jerry cans, an iconic visual symbol that have become central to his work; these yellow gallon drums used to bring water to homes of the underprivileged can be seen throughout the poorer neighbourhoods of Accra and becomes his optical metaphor for the underdevelopment of Ghana’s Capital. Water is at a premium and although considered the most essential human right on earth, in the Accra, tap water in homes is strictly reserved for the wealthy and well-to-do. Good drainage and plumbing throughout the city has yet to be achieved for all. Serge is often regarded as one of the leading lights of his era has effectively emotionally taken from the rich to benefit the poor creating a new generation of artists from Africa – Generation X but what would his father say to his son, dressing up in his Mother’s clothes and calling it Art?

Those that have followed Serge’s earlier years saw how initially, he bravely took on the mantra from his father Mr Seth Clottey, whose formal, conventional more conservative artworks brought him fame in the years during Independence and beyond. Although his father’s paintings are highly accomplished works of Art they do tend to favour a Colonial appetite. The idea of creating portraiture, figurative works or landscapes, stretched onto canvases and set in gilded frames seemed a little unadventurous for his fiercely competitive son. Those old-fashioned and outdated works seemed to somehow play into the hands of an oppressed past. They were created on demand and on the basis to be sold. To find a specific market for an invisible dominance that seems to have remained in Ghana since Independence. The young artist felt that his father’s generation was nothing more than Ghanaians copying the West.

The culture in West Africa, just like elsewhere on the Continent, is to show your respect for your elders at all times and never to confrontation them. To do so is regarded as being utterly impertinent and rewarded with a handsome beating. His father, Mr Seth Clottey simply couldn’t understand what on earth he was up to. This tormented father/son relationship was certainly not an easy one and the very idea of creating works out of discarded rubbish was difficult for the older generation to come to terms with and virtually impossible to comprehend. Mr. Seth Clottey was furious with his non-conforming off spring, thinking him rude and disrespectful. It was at this time when I first met Serge, at his poorest and his best. He was at war with himself and all those around him. The two artists young and old were at loggerheads. His father was completely baffled by his son’s antics, thinking he would never make anything of himself playing with the discarded scraps of the city.
What kind of livelihood could he make from such efforts? He never for one instance considered what he was doing could possibly be taken seriously and Ghana would end up making fun of his son and ruin the family name, so began the agonizing early years and the beginning of Serge’s artistic endeavours.

These were the tough days as the hardships Serge faced without financial or emotional support meant he was limited to the materials he could afford and the places he could sleep. Having such little money he found solace in his friends in the impoverished areas of Labadi and Nima, these are some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Accra, but it was here that the banished son found his support.
He would assist in the pulling in of the nets for the fishermen in Labadi to earn a decent square meal. He lived in a simple room without running water or electricity so painting in oil or acrylics was too much to ask so these limitations became his greatest assets. During the day he became a beachcomber looking for any washed up garbage he could use as artistic materials and bind together to create his artworks. The difficulty in the early days was to break that classic mindset of the past, that hangover from Colonialism that Art can only truly be art if it looks like the Art being produced in the West (Europe or America). It took great will power and an artistic stubbornness from the young buck, determined to make his make in the world of Art but through the introduction of the Internet and access to a wider world all this thinking was echoed elsewhere. The artist’s true pathway was rising to meet him and the battle for true cultural independence was set.

Ousmane Sow | Senegalese Sculptor

OUSMANE SOW | The Guardian Obiturary

Senegalese sculptor who captured the energy of people resisting oppression.

Ousmane Sow with Massai Warrior

In many respects this is a sea-change in Art. What Ousmane Sow is explaining is that ancient Yoruba and Mali methods of sculpture are superior to those from Europe as they have more flexibility. Some of his later original sculptures are impossible to replicate in bronze or gold as the medium is too heavy and restrictive to display what is physically possible in sculpture. Sometimes the primitive is superior to what is considered by many to be civilized.

The controversial African artist, Senegalese sculptor, Ousmane Sow, has died at the age of 81. Sow worked continuously as an Artist; as a child growing up in Dakar he made action figures which he shared with his friends and used to make up elaborate fictional stories. He worked on model-making and animations in Paris for decades, even turning his physiotherapy office into his studio. He produced a short 16mm film about a group of flamboyant extraterrestrials visiting planet earth, but his career only started once he had returned to Africa and settled back into his beloved Dakar, in his early 50’s. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s Sow produced an immense body of work using African materials and techniques. His first major success came with his larger-than-life sculptures of the Nubian Sudanese Wrestlers, at the French Cultural Centre in Dakar in 1987. 
Massai Series
Zulu Series
Next came the Maasia, from Kenya and Tanzania exploring their exceptional hunting ability and their connection with the wilderness of the Serengeti and then the Zulu warriors from Kwzulu-Natal, South Africa and their strength and unity as one of the most resilient tribes in Africa. Last in this initial series, he explored the stunning beauty found in nomadic, Islamic Fulani people from the Sahel and West Africa, whose features are akin with those found in the Middle Eastern with their golden brown skins. The Nubian Series was an anthropological exercise by the artist and a broad look at the different varieties of peoples to be found on the Continent of Africa.

Fulani Series
Stirred by the German filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl and her photographic books on the Nuba and the people of Kau from the Sudan. A series of images known as Mein Afrika was translated in 1982 into English and renamed, Vanishing Africa. To Sow, it seemed rather perverse for a German film-maker, that not only supported but created propaganda for Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party, should be the artist to record the lives of Africans. Ambitiously he took on the vital role as an African anthropologist and quietly, and methodically decided to chronicle the multiplicity of Africa using ancient and modern African sculptural techniques and finally permitting an African perspective on African people. Over several years he created a series of huge sculptures exposing the diversity of the Continent.
Nubian Wrestlers
The naked wrestlers were quite shocking when first shown outside the French Cultural Centre in the Muslim city of Dakar. Their presence and majestic dominance won the artist great acclaim and by 1993 Sow was selected for Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and the Venice Biennale two years later. Cosmic success followed and the public's response to Sow's works were more like fans at a rock concert or cinema-lovers watching their favourite movies from their best Directors. The works seemed to take on a life of their own and the reactions were deeply private and affected each person differently. In 1998 he took on his greatest challenge, the Americans and created, what many consider his Masterpieces, 35 works in his American Indians series, a few he placed on horseback, some with guns others with bows and arrows, all fighting for victory against General Custer at the battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.
Mother and Child
Born in 1935, Sow grew up in the vibrant neighbourhood of Reubeuss in Dakar. He was raised by his disciplinarian father, Moctar and his robust St. Louis mother, Nafi N’Diaye. At the age of 7 he attended a French Lycée and obediently practiced Islam after school and at the weekends. Later, whilst in France, he found solace in meditation and Hinduism with a profound belief in reincarnation. In the home that he built in Dakar he made the best room in the house his meditation room.
His interest in sculpture was evident from a young age. In his teens he explored different formulas with glues and melted materials to build up various figurines. In 1957, after the death of his Father, Sow decided to leave Dakar, even though he was penniless. Senegal at that time was a Colony of France and as a member of one of the French Departments Sow was a French Citizen. The artist’s attitude towards life is remembered by a conversation with the French journalist, Marie-Odile Briot. In his childhood when asked if he could catch the moon he jumped out of bed, put on his slippers and gave it his best shot.
Once in France, Sow found temporary accommodation in assorted police stations around Paris and gradually picked up fleeting jobs in order to get by. Having an interest in the human body he attended a course on massage, which earned him a diploma in nursing from Laennec Hospital. He then went on to study with Boris Dolto, a pioneer in orthopaedics and kinesiology therapy in France. His professional skills as a physiotherapist provided financial stability but also the essential understanding and working knowledge of the human body, which became so invaluable in his later life. 
Battle of Little Big Horn
Sow was a Master of exaggeration with a fundamental understanding of the human analytic anatomy. He was able to delve into his familiarity with restful muscles as opposed to those that contort. In many respects this artist was an enigma who found extraordinary global acclaim. His meteoric rise came out of nowhere but Sow had been patiently working on ideas since first showing his bas-relief entitled, Head of a Moor at the World Festival of Black Arts (FESMAN) in 1966. His works are authentically African taken from the different sculptural techniques from West Africa specifically, from the Nok artisans of Ife, Nigeria. Sow sculpted without a model and rarely made sketches. The secret to his success lies in the alchemy of his handmade medium, a number of highly prized ingredients such as red soil, sand, mother of vinegar and other confidential matter were placed into barrels, turned into pulp and left to brew over time. The whole process is an art form in itself, which gave the Artist as much pleasure as the creation of his massive sculptures. Once the models were dressed and stuffed he applied by hand, his mysterious toxic recipe onto a framework of metal, straw and jute, allowing nature to do her magic and giving the medium its own freedom to harden under the hot Dakar sun. This approach is inherently artistic, but also deeply rooted in Africa. In the first phase of his work, the Nubian Series, the gargantuan figures come across as rather harsh, the sculptures are smooth, solid and tense; their postures rigid and inflexible... almost obstinate. What is so impressive is that for the first time, we see an African Artist playing anthropologist, not only does he magnify those from the Continent but does so with ancient African traditional forms of sculpture that date back to the 11th Century.
Battle of Little Big Horn
In the second phase of his artistic life, Sow’s techniques changed slightly and in the Battle of Little Bighorn | The American Effect at the Whitney Museum in 2003 we see far rougher, coarser and more ambitious works on display. The figures are daring in their colour and Sow left holes in the frameworks and using his new burnt technique, was able to make the sculptures more malleable and dramatic. The grey matter on the horses comes from melting pieces of coloured plastics which create a remarkable finish. The end result is a magnificent production of 11 horses and 24 human figures in incredible positions never before seen. This gained Sow the reputation as one of the greatest sculptors of all time.
Ousmane Sow | Le Pont Des Arts
In the spring of 1999 at the invitation of Paris City Hall, the artist exhibited one of the most spectacular events in living memory, at le pont des Arts. The show attracted over three million visitors and the French media even warned that the influx of so many spectators would undermine the integrity of the bridge itself. The exhibition included seventy-five of Sow's colossal works featuring members of the Nubian Series, his American Indians and various iconic figures. These awe-inspiring works were on display between the Louvre and the Académie Francaise. This was an impressive show of epic proportions, which won the artist adoration and admiration from the French public.
Dancer with the short hair
After his successful 1999 exhibition, he began using a bronze foundry to cast some of his earlier works. The finest of which is Dancer with the Short Hair.  In the remote Kordofan region, in the south of Sudan, where the Nuba live, young virgins dance the myertum, the "dance of love". The young dancers smear their bodies with black or red earth to make themselves appear more athletic and desirable. They perform a special playful seductive dance for the victorious wrestlers, who sit in a circle, their eyes lowered out of respect, after the annual ceremonial combat.  Bronze is the perfect medium for this stunning Masterpiece, with its dark, shimmering quality and its refined finish, it is able to flawlessly replicate the natural beauty of the Dancer with Short Hair.
On 11th April 2012 Sow was elected to become a Membre Associé Etranger ("foreign associate member") of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France, replacing the American artist, Andrew Wyeth. He became the first African artist ever to be elected for membership.
Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Old Slave
In the same year his sculpture “Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Old Slave” was the centrepiece at African Mosaic at the National Museum of African Art in Washington. This work was acquired by the Museum and featured in the bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution, the work celebrates Toussaint L'Ouverture who led a slave revolt in Haiti  from 21 August 1791 to 1 January 1804. 
His final work, The Peasant, a commission from the office of the President of Senegal. The work is to be cast in bronze and installed in front of the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center in Diamniadio, near Dakar. Ousmane Sow completed his last work just one month before he died. His incredible legacy is assured and his commitment to all things Africa will certainly go down in the African Art History books of tomorrow.
Ousmane Sow born 10th October 1935 to 1st December 2016 | He leaves behind a new generation of impressive sculptors from Senegal: Seni Awa Camara, N’Dary Lo, Mamady Seydi, Cheikhou Bâ, Henry Sagna and Abdala Faye.