Sowei mask: Spirit of Sierra Leone

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Short film bringing to life a collection of West African Sowie mask for an exhibit at the British Museum

We were commissioned to make the audio-visual element of the British Museum exhibition ‘Sowei mask: Spirit of Sierra Leone’.  This exhibition explores the cultural interaction that influenced the mask’s form and examines the ubiquity of Sowei masks in museums worldwide.  It was curated by Paul Basu and Julie Hudson and featured a single mask, alongside panels of text and photography and our film.

The brief was to add a dynamic and contemporary audio-visual component to an otherwise largely static exhibition and to provide a soundscape for the exhibition.

We filmed a selection of the museum’s extensive collection of Sowei masks at the British Museum’s archive at Orsman Road.  These were edited together with archive photography and Paul Basu’s recordings of Sande Society rituals from different villages in Sierra Leone.  Sound recordings of drumming and singing from these rituals make up the soundtrack for the piece.


Creative Direction:Tim Cowie
Producer:Alice Ceresole
Editor:Tim Cowie
Camera:Christopher Thomas Allen, Tim Cowie, Jai Rafferty & Paul Basu

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