Sanko-time is an audio work by British-Ghanaian artist, Larry Achiampong, commissioned by The Line. This site-specific piece has been composed to accompany the 20-minute round-trip on the Emirates Air Line cable car from Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks, reflecting on the historical context of the River Thames during the journey across the water. As the work is hosted online, it can also be enjoyed from anywhere in the world. Please note that listening through headphones provides the best audio experience.
Sanko-time is a concept developed by the artist that relates to the Ghanaian Twi word Sankofa, which roughly translates as ‘to go back for what has been left behind’ and alludes to using the past to prepare for the future. This site-specific work responds to the indelibility of the historical British Empire on the areas local to The Line. Incorporating oral histories from the Museum of London’s sound collection, field recordings from London and Accra and audio recorded during workshops with primary school children from St Mary Magdalene C of E School in Greenwich, Sanko-time takes the listener through a rich soundscape connected by the Greenwich Meridian.
Threaded with a powerful narrative about the legacy of colonialism from Achiampong, Sanko-time is a hypnotic synthesis of poetry, field recordings and music, including drum loops by the late Tony Allen an Afrobeat pioneer who brought together elements of Ghanaian Highlife and Jazz. The work is infused with the sounds and rhythms of Accra and London, including the lapping waves of Jamestown (the fishing harbour in Accra) and the water of the Royal Docks, as well as the street sounds of Accra’s Makola Market. The tides and empires explored in Sanko-time rise and fall to reveal the imprints of histories and the colonial past in our present.
Sanko-time is the inaugural Listen to The Line commission and is funded by Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust and supported by Emirates Air Line and the Royal Docks Team. Signage in the Emirates Air Line terminals and inside the cable car pods includes the image of Achiampong’s new flag What I Hear I Keep, which has been commissioned by De La Warr Pavilion (2020).