‘Performance is the dance that goes with the drum beats’ – Patrick Tagoe-Turkson

Press "Play" to listen to article
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Spread the love

Patrick Tagoe-Turkson is a member of that elite clique of KNUST Art College graduates who continue to hold their own in the big wide world of global art. In fact, in Tagoe-Turkson’s case, the man is spreading his wings with many flying colors spluttered over 100 exhibitions home and away.

And everywhere he installs his work, he leaves trails and tickling curiosities of himself and his thoughts behind.

As a multidisciplinary artist, Tagoe-Turkson may start his ideas in drawings and paintings, but soon enough, he often segues into other dimensions, incorporating several natural materials here and there to bring thought to life.

He is among that growing specie of convinced environmental artist who draws inspiration from past, present and future always with a view to sustaining what is here and recycling found materials to meet contemporary aesthetic tastes.

His more famous outings around the world include ‘Flag installations and performance’, ’Memory repairs’, ‘Atiitee’ and ‘Nature scene’.

Tagoe-Turkson also teaches painting at Takoradi Technical University and promotes art through several festivals. From Tuesday April 4, 2023 to 11th, seven of Tagoe-Turkson’s flip-flop found object hangings will adorn the Ground Floor of Discovery House, AUCC, Adabraka, Accra as part of this year’s Accra Visual Arts Week (AVIEW) organized by Konyo Museum of African Art.

Following are excerpts from an interview with the ecoartist.

Nana S. Achampong: Where did you grow up, and how does that influence the work you produce?

Patrick Tagoe-Turkson: I grew up in the Effutu state of Winneba in southern Ghana. This is where I also obtained my primary and junior high school education. My school was situated at the heart of the then Specialist Training College (now University of Education Winneba), which is also one of the hubs for art education in Ghana. So, it became the first point of contact for experimental and practical art sessions for teachers. These practical art sessions had a great impact on my love for art. I never missed them.

Again, because the traditional occupations of my people are fishing, farming, and hunting, I had close relationships with nature at an early age.  As children, we played on the beaches with drift objects, hunted for game, grew corn for our staple food – obienku – and gathered firwood for our mother’s kitchen.

Our elders also taught us the hidden tenant, compelling power, and moral authority of our historical traditional asafo flag art, which played an important role in our annual Aboakyir (deer hunting festival).  The Aboakyir festival is celebrated every first week of May.

During every festive season, we make new flags to tell our stories and happenings within the Effutu community. The flags are made with fabric as in aplique fashion or found objects or a combination of both. We use found objects in our flag art culture to represent people and ideas that reflect those ideas. My continual research, interest, experience, and the consistent practice in my historical traditional flag art concepts is what has become the basis of what I do as an artist.


Aba Blue
Recycled found flip-flops on leather

NSA: What is your biggest influence in life?

PT-T: People and places…when I meet people and interact with them, I understand the quality of being human. When I travel and visit places, I gain wisdom and experience. Combining these two attributes makes life so beautiful.

NSA: You’re a multidisciplinary artist: tell me about your favorite medium.

PT-T: Any medium that aptly conveys the ideas I want to put across in perceptible form at any point in time becomes my favorite medium.

NSA: Nature artists find in the natural world: when working with found objects, is there a formula you follow?

PT-T: There is no formula. But what is most important to me anytime I encounter a new object or space is to try to first experience the object and understand the language of that new object or space. This aesthetic pleasure usually triggers my previous knowledge or encounter with the object or something similar. Just like most friendships, it takes time to establish real connection with objects. There is always that fluidity in the creative process and interaction with found objects when my personal experience begins to map with that of the found object.

NSA: When is your favorite time of day to create?

PT-T: I have no favorite time. I create art whenever I find the least opportunity. The artist must be in charge of his creative spirit, and I create the time to create.

NSA: How would you describe how art such as the kind you create is important to society?

PT-T: In the first place, I see my art from upcycled flip-flops as my little contribution to cleaning my immediate environment and transforming the plastic waste collected from our beaches into something more beautiful for the sustainability of our beaches and ocean. I am always happy when I am able to give new meaning and purpose of what society considers as waste.

Secondly, my art practice preserves the dying ancient traditional art concepts and practices which are deep and which touch the lives of a wider audience. My art gives it a perceptible form.

Moreover, from materiality to form and content, my work tells the story of how far we have come as a society and the adjustments we need to make in order to save energy and tackle the global problem of climate change.

NSA: What motivates you to create?

PT-T: I am motivated when I am creating.

Midnight dreams
Recycled found flip-flops on leather

NSA: Can you talk me through how you would make a typical flip-flop hanging from found objects?

PT-T: This is the flip-flops wall hanging process:

  1. Collections of waste flip-flop debris from the beaches or donations of old flip-flops from friends and neighbors.
  2. Transportation of flip-flops from beaches to the studio.
  3. Disinfection and cleaning/washing of flip-flops debris.
  4. Drying of cleaned flip-flops
  5. Sorting and color-coding
  6. Cutting, composing, recomposing, and glue-ing
  7. Drying and finishing

NSA: I see you incorporate performance as part of your installations and exhibitions with the artist as an active integral part of the work: why?

Recycled found flip-flops on leather

PT-T: Performances in my art helps me to fully capture and sustain audience interest, and it helps the audience to deduce meaning in their own small ways and to bring clarity to the symbols and iconographies represented. Effutu asafo militias of Winneba perform with ‘object flags’ all the time during Aboakyir. Our elders say ‘Performance is the dance that goes with the drum beats’.

NSA: How important is video as a complement in contemporary art?

PT-T: Unlike traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture, videos offer the audience an additional perception of the whole visual experience. It allows the audience to experience also with emotions. In my nature art, site-specific installations, and performances, I employ videos as a means to inspire my audience and to  get them to experience similar moods and relationships with the materials and objects just as I had during the actual performative art – since they were not present with me on the site. In this case, video becomes one of the best means to record contemporary art.

NSA: Your final thought on Art!

PT-T: My thought on art is, any art that has no spiritual base can be said to be transient. It will not last. It is only those that are deep and touch the lives of its audiences that would stand.

14 thoughts on “‘Performance is the dance that goes with the drum beats’ – Patrick Tagoe-Turkson

  1. Very inspiring, creativity at it best. “Every artist must be in charge of his creative spirit”. Very deep. Keep up the good works by using what we call waste for creativity. Good job, the sky is not your limit.

  2. Very inspiring. To achieve success, you need interest, consistency, research and dedication. Keep up the good work.

  3. This is quite inspiring to me. What caught my attention the most is the response he gave when asked about the biggest influence in his life. Our surroundings, whether it be people or places, can greatly impact our creative abilities.

  4. So beautiful and depicting the true nature of life. Very natural, so inspiring and a good work done bro keep it up. AHUA TO YOU 💪

  5. Talent when well utilized, speaks volumes…Thanks Patrick for helping to “preserves the dying ancient traditional art”.

  6. Am highly impressed; to become successful is really hardwork and never looking back, we are gradually breaking the chain by not limiting ourselves to only one. it’s so inspiring to see someone with a visual arts background rising up to that level…

  7. Wow!Indeed Africans have great opportunities to explore what we have to the world. Making good use of what we have around us and also finding solutions to our problems or challenges in our societies and communities will actually bring or put a smile on people’s faces. Continue the good works.

  8. Very inspiring, and influenciable for us , we should learn for it , everyone have an artist inside

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *