Appiah Annan

Africa Fashion Opening Day

Sat 1 Jun, 12pm–4pm

Past program

Free entry

NGV International

Ground Level

Celebrate the opening of Africa Fashion with a free day of art, music, dance, and talks for all ages, curated in collaboration with creative producer Dorcas Maphakela.

Developed by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London, and presented in Melbourne in partnership with the NGV, Africa Fashion showcases the creativity, ingenuity, and global impact of contemporary African fashions from the mid-twentieth century to the present day, featuring over 200 works spanning fashion, textiles, adornment, photography, music, and film.

The celebrations will begin with a talk by Dr. Christine Checinska, Senior Curator African and Diaspora Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, introducing the exhibition, followed by a dynamic afternoon of performances and workshops curated by South African-born creative producer Dorcas Maphakela.

Uniting local African voices across music, poetry, and dance, join us for an afternoon of vibrant drop-by performances highlighting themes of love, life, and culture in Africa, in a rich celebration of African heritage and contemporary creativity.


12–12.45pm | Africa Fashion Curator’s Introductory Talk by Dr Christine Checinska

Dr Christine Checinska  is the V&A’s inaugural Senior Curator African and Diaspora Textiles and Fashion for the Africa Fashion exhibition, spanning from July 2022 to April 2023. Before joining the V&A, Christine worked as a womenswear designer, academic, artist, and curator. Her creative practice and research explore the relationship between fashion, culture, and race. Christine’s recent exhibitions include an intervention for Makers Eye: Stories of Craft from July to October 2021 at the Crafts Council Gallery, and Folded Life in February 2021 at the Johanne Jacobs Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. Her recent publications include Re-Fashioning African Diasporic Masculinities in Fashion and Postcolonial Critique, edited by Elke Gaugele and Monica Titton (2019). In 2016, she delivered the TEDxTalk Disobedient Dress: Fashion as Everyday Activism. With over thirty years of experience in the industry, Christine has created womenswear collections for iconic British brands such as Margaret Howell, where she served as a Senior Designer during the late 1990s.

Includes a Q&A with Sabina McKenna.

Sabina McKenna is an Australian writer and curator of Nigerian-Irish heritage. She is the creator of The Where are you from? Project, a photojournalistic series about cultural identity. Sabina writes predominantly in interview style and has been featured widely in local and international publications including The Big Issue, Art Almanac, Broadsheet, Fashion Journal, i-D, G-IRL (London) and Hopes&Fears (NYC). Sabina is frequently involved with a range of initiatives and institutions as a speaker and facilitator. Her exhibition, FAM (2023-24), featured a large-scale installation of 15 photojournalistic works, at Immigration Museum, aiming to destigmatise and prioritise conversations about race and family.

1–3.30pm | Music and Performance, curated by Dorcas Maphakela

Dorcas Maphakela is a multidisciplinary creative combining writing, visual arts, and holistic well-being advocacy in her practice. She is a South African-born Mopedi woman who relocated to Australia by choice in 2007 and became a citizen in 2012. She has extensive media and community engagement experience. She is a TV presenter, public speaker, and founder of the Antenna Award-winning OZ AFRICAN TV (OATV); a platform that celebrates African diaspora people in Australia. Dorcas is also the co-founder of Yo CiTY, an African-led platform that champions culturally diverse experiences through art and music, and the NGV Africa Fashion Programs Co-Curator.

1–4pm | Weaving Workshop with Qaymi Arts & Craft

Explore Somali weaving in a workshop led by Muhubo Sulieman, head weaver at Qaymi Arts & Crafts and create a woven wall hanging from wool. Ages 14 +

Drawing activities will also be available for children and families to learn more about Muhubo’s childhood in Somalia, living in traditional Somali huts called aqals.


HAIR DAY | featuring Zarah Garbrah, Agata Saka, Thabani Tshuma, Chichi Nwokocha and Ebony Hickey

The African hair salon is a communal space where topics around love, life, politics, and style play out. This performance sees hairstylists Zarah Garbrah and Agata Saka unite with spoken word poets Thabani Tshuma and Chichi Nwokocha to present a series of short skits and hair demonstrations referencing a day at the salon.

Agata Saka is the founder of Saka Hair Studio in Brunswick, Melbourne. She is described as a passionate creative and a warrior for diversity. Agata’s inspiration for starting Saka Studio stems from her childhood passion for hair artistry, which is a significant part of her culture. She aims to share her craft with others and help her clients maintain and embrace their natural textures. Agata has a strong understanding of the struggles faced by individuals unable to style and care for their hair due to a lack of black hair inclusion in the industry.

Zarah Garbrah, a hair stylist and creative based in Melbourne, is the driving force behind Embrace Your Frizzique, a haircare company transforming the way people feel about their hair through informed education, resources, and products. Built on the values of inclusivity, creativity, and self-expression, Zarah’s passion lies in fostering a culture and community where individuals can embrace and celebrate their hair.

Thabani Tshuma is a multi-award-winning Zimbabwean writer and performance poet. His work can be found in publications such as Dichotomi magazine, Cordite Poetry Review, CUBBY ART, and ABC ArtWorks’ SLAMMED. Thabani is co-curator of Thin Red Lines and his debut collection, The Gospel of Unmade Creation, was released in 2023 through Recent Work Press. Writing is the aperture through which he views the world and experiences self in relation to others.

Chichi Nwokocha, aka Cheech, is a Nigerian British Artmaker specializing in spoken word and theatre. With a background at the National Youth Theatre and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, she has produced events at Theatre Royal Stratford East in London, including, ‘An Evening with Wole Soyinka’. In Australia, Cheech has immersed herself in the arts scene, collaborating with Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, Theatre Works, and producing Ararat Youth Hip Hop Festival. She facilitates poetry workshops for Connection Arts Space and councils including Casey.

As a mentee of The People of Cabaret, she features in their award-winning, ‘We Are Here’, Digital Fringe show and performed in their Parlour Takeover, for Stonnington Council.

A regular at Drum theatre, Cheech is also a 2022 Green Room award winner with her collective TAKE BACK, striving to diversify POC in the arts. In 2023, she performed in, ‘On the 23rd Day Mars Was in Gemini’, for Midsumma Festival. And most recently was a spoken word artist for the 2024 NGV Triennial EXTRA – Afrocentric, curated by Candy Bowers.

Ebony Hickey is a Haitian born, Australian contemporary artists with an interest in interrogating concepts of individuality, adoption, sexuality, queerness and black identity. Ebony draws on her life experience to inform the creation of her drawings and expressive sculptural forms, employing a diverse assortment of materials. Performance is also an important element of her practice. Ebony completed her Master of Contemporary Art at Victorian College of the Arts in 2020.

DANCE | Choregraphed by Asanti Dance Theatre

Appiah Annan, a distinguished artist and choreographer from Ghana, founded Asanti Dance Theatre, starting as a small group training on the beach and evolving into a globally recognized 15-piece drum and dance theatre company collaborating with artists worldwide. In 2007, Appiah brought Asanti to Australia, where the group quickly gained prominence in the dance scene, performing at prestigious events and implementing school programs. Asanti’s success includes the acclaimed Afro-contemporary production “Sankofa,” premiered at the Malthouse in 2012. Appiah’s vision is to establish Asanti as a premier Afro-contemporary dance company, providing a platform for diverse artistic migrants to engage with the Australian dance community. Appiah’s strong community ties are evident through his workshops for youth, the elderly, and the disadvantaged, aiming to foster respect and unity. With a background in Community Cultural Development, he uses the arts to promote understanding and togetherness in society. Appiah’s extensive touring experience includes collaborations with Regional Arts Victoria, showcasing his commitment to community engagement through the arts.

Xavier Gibson is a talented dancer, choreographer, and model hailing from Melbourne who showcases a diverse range of skills influenced by his rich Mauritian heritage and various street dance styles like Hip hop, Afro, and Dancehall. His training in ballet, contemporary, and jazz at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School has crafted a vibrant and unique dance portfolio.

Xavier’s choreography and dance talents have been featured in music videos, concept films, and campaigns for brands like Nike, Reebok, and Converse. Notable works include directing, choreographing, and performing in various projects such as music videos, concept films, and live shows like ‘Afrocentric’ at the NGV Triennial. His emotional, athletic, and powerful style has garnered attention in the professional world, leading to collaborations with renowned brands.

Xavier aims to inspire and represent fellow creative boys of colour with his work, showcasing his creativity, originality, and impact despite his young age.

HOUSE BAND | Brotha Asanti & Soulectric

Brotha Asanti & Soulectric
Led by visionary Zimbabwe-born composer Brotha Asanti, with South African roots, Soulectric seamlessly blends lush melodies and infectious rhythms, fusing vibrant African percussion with New York and Chicago House influences. Their electrifying live performances, drawing from Asanti’s deep roots in South Africa, promise a unique, culturally rich experience, transporting audiences to the golden era of music.

Brotha Asanti & Soulectric bring together vibrant African percussion and the infectious underground rhythms of New York and Chicago House. This band offers a visual experience that will transport you to the golden era of music. Drawing inspiration from Africa and the underground dance scenes of New York & Chicago, Soulectric’s live performances take audiences on an electrifying musical journey. Featuring a vast range of artistic voices, Soulectric promises an unforgettable experience that celebrates culture.

DJ | Chris NG

Chris NG has been a prominent figure in the dynamic Melbourne House scene for over 20 years, known for his commitment to quality music and the art of DJing. He is recognized for his innovative approach to curating new music, fostering inclusive dance environments, and connecting with diverse music enthusiasts. Through projects like Le Soul, Release, Yum Yum, and involvement with Kiss FM, Chris has made a significant impact. His initiative, Goodlife, promotes positivity, education, and community engagement through music, hosting events like African, Classics, The Bump, and unique experiences such as the Windsor Block Party and Collingwood Underground Roller Disco. Internationally, he has performed at prestigious events in Miami, New York, London, and New Jersey, sharing the stage with renowned artists like Black Coffee, Marshall Jefferson, Osunlade, and many more. Chris continues to leave his mark both at home and abroad, supporting and collaborating with a diverse array of music talents.

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