The Black Ocean



The Black Ocean is headed by the pictogram adinkra Sankofa, (the duck looking backwards)

which means, “go back and fetch”, in other words “learn from the past”.


On each wall hanging there is a pictogram. This group of visual symbols is called adinkra.

It was created by the Akan people of modern day Ghana a few centuries ago but is constantly evolving.
These symbols represent concepts and aphorisms, which aim to pass on the philosophy,

ethics and beliefs that lay at the root of Akan civilisation and more widely of all human society.

Originally they were used only for shrouds (adinkra means ”goodbye”) ; they can now be found on clothes,

walls or house doors and many other objects used in rituals and everyday life.

As for me, I have used them to highlight one important aspect of the thematic of each wall hanging.


,,,/ extract chapter 1 in l’Océan noir Editions Gallimard Paris France (in french) april 2009. ISBN : 9 782070625239
© W. A. W


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The Black Ocean is French artist William Wilson's homage to his ancestors and his reflection on humanity and its capacity for both great achievement and nobility, and the basest horror and depravity.

Wilson, a painter, printmaker, sculptor, author and illustrator based in Paris, journeyed to West Africa where, over a period of nearly two years, he worked with artisans in Abomey, Benin to create a series of eighteen fabric panels interpreting the historical narratives of the peoples of West Africa and of the infamous triangle trade.

These powerful textiles bear witness to the richness of African culture and symbology and the complex histories that interweave in reconstructing the African diaspora.




All about The Black Ocean...

2010  | Paris

«THE BLACK OCEAN » Europe-Africa-the Americas by William Adjété Wilson “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” William [...]

Specification sheet. The Black Ocean a touring show.

2010  | nc

  THE BLACK OCEAN, L’OCEAN NOIR, OCEANO NEGRO.   A travelling exhibition     Requirements & Terms of Reference Shipping "wall to wall" Shipping [...]

More about "The black Ocean" ?

2010  | nc

  «THE BLACK OCEAN » Europe-Africa-the Americas   The Black Ocean is French artist William Adjété Wilson's homage to his ancestors and his [...]

Presse release

2009  | Gallimard

L'océan noir / The Black Ocean/ O Oceano Negro A series by William, Adjété Wilson, Abomey/Bénin & Paris. France The Black Ocean is a series of [...]