Desirable photo book alert. Mmofra Foundation – who Twitter followers have been hearing a bit about, as I’m currently doing some volunteer web editing for the organisation – has released volume one of the Willis Bell Collection, a catalogue of images it has restored and digitised from the 90,000-strong archive.
Bell, a globetrotting US citizen who eventually settled in Ghana, took regular photos between 1958 and 1980, many of them featuring children, families and traditional or improvised games – all things that are central to Mmofra’s mission. And if you know Ghana’s timeline, you’ll have spotted that Bell became active in the years immediately following independence, making the archive a valuable historical resource to boot. Accra-based culture mag DUST remixed some of his photos for a ‘people’s politics’ issue in September 2011.
Bell’s pictures also appear in Mmofra founder Efua Sutherland’s 1960 book Playtime in Africa, which gives its name to the organisation’s current project in Accra: turning two acres of land in Dzorwulu into a prototype ‘public play space’. PlayGroundology has a great profile of the initiative. I’m helping to put together some material on PiA’s global partners and participants, and it’s quite a roster, featuring architects, planners, lawyers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, craft workers and community members.
Proceeds from sales of the catalogue - which is genuinely desirable in its own right, reproducing pics at a decent size and one-per-page – go towards the foundation’s work. There’s a digital edition available for just $5, though you get that thrown in for free if you buy the $17.55 print version. Hit the pic for a preview and ordering options.