Paa Joe & the Lion – Residency & Grand Finale Event

Date published: 2 May 2013

Posted by: Joe Pick

Man carving a coffin

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Paa Joe arrived in the UK on Tuesday, and started work at Clumber yesterday.  Below you’ll find the full information about the project, the workshops you can attend and the Grand Finale event on on Saturday 1st June.  You can buy tickets now from

Man stands with carved lion shaped coffinResidency & Celebration Details – May 2013, on going, FREE!

From May 1st – June 1st 2013 Paa Joe and his son Jacob will be building a coffin in the shape of a lion and will be working from National Trust site, Clumber Park.
(Address:  Clumber Park, Worksop S80 3AZ.  Tel:  01909 544 917.)

Throughout the residency, members of the public can visit Paa Joe and watch him work.

Workshops inspired by Paa Joe’s craft and delivered by local artists will also be happening during this month in the City Arts Dome:

Saturday 4th May – 1-3pm – Mask Making with Stephen Jon
Saturday 11th May – 1-3pm – Poetry with Panya Banjoko
Saturday 18th May – 1-3pm – Arts activities TBC

On Friday 30th May Paa Joe and his coffin will relocate for one day to Rufford Country Park.  Visitors can watch him work and partake in creative workshops and an artist’s walk in and around the sculpture garden within the country park.  Arts activities will by led by Sandy Bywater.

Grand Finale & Celebration Paa Joe & The Lion on Saturday 1st June 2013 – Ticketed

A day filled with art, dance, music and theatre.  Come and celebrate Paa Joe’s lion coffin in the beautiful surroundings of National Trust site, Clumber Park.  There will be music, poetry and mask making workshops throughout the day with African inspired food available too.

At twilight, the celebration of the coffin will commence – a vibrant and dazzling display of dancers, African inspired percussionists, a colliery band and giant puppets.  Watch, join in and be a part of the celebration as the lion coffin makes its journey around the grounds of Clumber Park and across the lake.  The event will be filmed as part of forthcoming feature documentary film, Paa Joe: Dead, not Buried.

The grand finale is inspired by a traditional Ga funeral in which a coffin is traveled around a village in a bid to confuse the spirit so it cannot return and haunt its friends and relatives.  It is then believed the spirit must cross a stretch of water to shake off its demons and reach the land of the afterlife.

The event will culminate in Ghanaian inspired food and drink.

For transport details please visit this website

Wodden yellow fish shaped coffinProject Info

Paa Joe & The Lion – First ever UK artist residency with Ghanaian coffin maker, Paa Joe

In May 2013 Paa Joe left Ghana for only the second time in his life and travelled to the UK where he will undertake an artist residency in the stunning surroundings of National Trust site, Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire.  Here he will build his trademark lion coffin, one of the most powerful and important symbols of Africa.  On June 1st 2013 the coffin will be celebrated in a grand finale, featuring the mesmerizing musicians, Sabar Soundsystem.  During the residency, City Arts will also be engaging local schools through a series of arts workshops; mask making with Stephen Jon, poetry with Panya Banjoko and music with Michael Davis.

The residency and grand finale are open to the public and the full event is supported by The National Lottery through Arts Council England in partnership with City Arts, National Trust in the Midlands and Nottinghamshire County Council.

Paa Joe is a master craftsman and the Grandfather of the fantasy coffin trade.  Since sixteen he has been crafting beautiful coffins that represent the lives of the people for whom they are made – a Coca Cola bottle for a street vendor, or a lion for the head of a family.  He has produced thousands of coffins, the majority of which lie deep under the ground.

In 2008 Paa Joe was forced from his workshop located in the centre of Accra to his storage hut two hours away.  His Ghanaian customers didn’t follow and the tourists stopped passing by.  But as his coffin making business is floundering, there is one last hope, a UK exhibition in celebration of his work.

A handful of Paa Joe’s works have already exhibited internationally as examples of the Ga culture – from the British Museum in London to Brooklyn Museum in New York – but this is not enough for him.  Paa Joe wants his work, and his name, to be seen and recognized the world over.