Following the unification of various Soninke tribes, in around 300 CE the Empire of Ghana took shape north west of what is now the country, traversing current-day Mauritania, Senegal and Mali’.
James Kobla (J.K.) Bruce-Vanderpuije
J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije, was born in 1899 in James Town, British Accra. His early education was at the Accra Royal School, which held the distinction of being the Gold Coast’s first formal educational institution, established in 1672. During his time at school, the young J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije developed a keen interest in photography as a hobby. Following his formal education, he underwent training with the tutelage of J.A.C Holmes for a number of years. For a brief period, he was employed by the Accra Town Council, now known as the Accra Metropolitan Authority, where he quickly made a name for himself with his striking work.
Over the course of his seventy-year career, the influential photographer played a pivotal role in developing an authentic narrative and aesthetic of Africa through a non-colonial lens. Among the limited number of Ghanaian photographers who rose to prominence in the pre-independence era, his portfolio encompassed a wide spectrum of assignments and personal projects, including jobs from the government, corporate advertising campaigns, nation-shaping occurrences, and intimate depictions of everyday life. Through his meticulous documentation, he offered a diverse and abundant insight into the cultural tapestry of a nation. Comprising around 50,000 works, the photographer’s estate is still under the custodianship of the Deo Gratias studio in Accra. Established by J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije in 1922, the studio is presently overseen by his granddaughter, Kate Tamakloe.
In 1948 J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije photographed the British Head of Police Superintendent Colin Imray’s shooting of Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey at the Christianborg crossroads, these photographs were later tended in as evidence for the crime committed. This event, which encouraged the anti-colonial movements to press the British government to institute a committee to investigate the shooting, is largely regarded as the catalyst for Ghana’s eventual independence in 1957, a moment which J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije also famously caught on camera at Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s speech at the Polo Grounds. Ultimately, J.K. Bruce- Vanderpuije not only photographed history but created it.
J.K. Bruce-Vanderpuije News
This year’s 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair features 62 international exhibitors, one-third of which are from the African continent and 14 galleries participating at the fair’s London edition for the very first time..
The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair opened its 11th London edition at Somerset House on Thursday, bringing together an impressive 62 exhibitors from 32 countries..
Ever-Present, a group exhibition at Efie Gallery, offers a glimpse at how art from the continent has evolved over time
Ghana photography: Capturing a new nation coming to life – J.K. Bruce Vanderpuije’