African art on display in Manchester.

Manchester has some big ambitions to be more than a second city to London when it comes to art. That’s why many in the city are excited about the new West African art show that’s slated to open in the Whitworth and City Centre¬† galleries called “We Face Forward.”

Artists in nine west African countries will be represented for a summer-long season of art and music. The title comes from a speech once given by Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, who told his countrymen: “We face neither East nor West, we face forward.”

Home to many African immigrants, Manchester is an appropriate location for such a grand festival celebrating a wide range of artists, painters, photographers, textiles, video and sound work.

There will be 33 exhibitors from nine nations, including Georges Adeagbo, El Anatsui,Romuald Hazoume and George Osodi.  Some of the artists are exhibiting in the UK for the first time, such as Lucy Azubuike, Emeka Ogboh, and Nyani Quarmyne.

Not only African art, but a shared love of football will be part of the festivities. Many events will take place at the National Football Museum opening in the city centre on July 6. Manchester will host nine football matches during the 2012 Olympics and African artists with football motifs will be featured.

The Crowne Plaza at Manchester Airport (www.cpmanchesterairporthotel.co.uk) is a great base from which to enjoy Manchester and has great transport links to the centre of town.