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Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life

Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life Ngadi Smart – Wata Na Life

The winner of our 2023 Publishing Ecology award deploys a kaleidoscopic approach to collage to visualise water poverty and the effects of climate change upon Sierra Leone.


Ngadi Smart’s interdisciplinary practice stretches across collage, photography and illustration to build authentic and essential pictures of contemporary African identity. In 2021, Smart was commissioned to accompany WaterAid for three months in her mother country of Sierra Leone, where 85% of the population is without basic access to sanitation. Smart documents communities that are resiliently adapting to the realities of climate change infiltrating water systems, degrading agricultural land, and forcing adaptation. Smart takes the context of a water crisis, deepened by internal and external corruption and government complacency, and builds a vibrant and lucid foundation for empowerment and change through her photocollage works. 

Smart chooses to turn upon its head conventional Western depictions of poverty and hardship to create a visual language of her own that is brimming with vitality alongside tension and questions of power. Wata Na Life is kinetic and unfixed – jubilant and cacophonous collages blending landscape and subject into a post-photographic swell of pride. However, buried within Smart’s blossoming collages is a spikier thorn; tangled images suggest a fragile infrastructure of dependence and support, and jagged contrasts imply the realities of a daily existence where water really is life.

With Western consumption taking a heavy toll on countries in the Global South, Wata Na Life seeks a path to climate justice through visually uplifting and celebrating those most vulnerable to the effects of its degradation.

Ngadi Smart is the recipient of the 2023 Loose Joints and Mahler & LeWitt Studios Publishing Award, an artist’s residency and publishing award focused in 2023 on photography and ecology. Smart further developed her approach to photocollage during a month in residency at Mahler & LeWitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy, for a book to be edited, designed and published by Loose Joints.

  • Ngadi Smart (b. 1988) is a Sierra Leonean Visual Artist. Her work incorporates Illustration, Photography and Design. She also works as a Mixed Media artist, primarily in the form of Collage Art, and has been shown globally, including in Japan; Kyotographie, China; Beijing 's Africa Week, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Poland; Fotofestiwal Łódź, Switzerland; Fotofestival Lenzburg, U.K; Format Festival, Netherlands; Noorderlicht Photography Festival. Her work has been seen on British Journal of Photography, Financial Times, Vogue Italia, Atmos Magazine, and I.D Magazine.
  • 88 pages, 220 × 260 mm, 75 colour plates
    Cahier-bound debossed softcover book

    Designed & Published by Loose Joints

    LJ199, July 2024
    978-1-912719-56-3
  • Reserve now and get 10% OFF! Limited to the first 100 pre-orders.

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