Lecture: Photographing the Bundu Helmet Masks of the Mende Peoples in Sierra Leone


The famous helmet masks used in Sierra Leone and neighboring Liberia and Guinea have been documented by several foreign photographers since the late 19th century, starting with the 1901 monograph by the British colonial administrator T.J. Alldridge. Such historical photographs are often included in African art exhibitions to help contextualize the objects on display. Julie Crooks, head of Global Arts of Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), discussed the compelling career of Alphonso Lisk-Carew (1883–1969), one of the few local Sierra Leonean professional photographers of the early 20th century.

This program complements the exhibition “The Language of Beauty in African Art,” which brings together more than 250 sculptures and other art forms from dozens of distinct cultures across the African continent.


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