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Edmonton art gallery showcases Sierra Leonean painter

By  | 20 November 2016 at 20:47 | 2951 views

As Christmas shopping gathers pace in Edmonton, one Sierra Leonean stood out in the hustle and bustle of one shopping centre on Saturday November 19, 2016. Gibril Bangura, an artist from Winnipeg, was painting a picture as he explained the basics of his craft to onlookers.

Gibril was on the shop floor of The Art World, a gallery at the Kingsway Garden Mall. The place sells works by artists from all over the world. With him was the manager John Pak, and one of Gibril’s friends Mike Smith.

The artist first met Mike Smith, a resident of Edmonton, after a chance encounter between Mike and Gibril’s wife recently. Mike soon found out that Gibril is a Sierra Leonean artist who moved to Canada a couple of years ago. He was so impressed he asked another friend, John Pak, to help promote Gibril. That was how Saturday’s special event came about. “I cannot thank Mike and John enough; for giving me such great exposure here,” Gibril said to The Patriotic Vanguard. “I keep getting nice surprises; first in Winnipeg and now in Edmonton.”

Gibril Bangura and Mike Smith

Gibril grew up in an orphanage in Freetown. It was while he stayed at The Boys’ Society of Sierra Leone that he discovered his talent. In spite of the odds, he persevered and honed his painting skills as he grew up. Gibril has been a full time artist for over 25 years now. He held his first international exhibition at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, when was just 19 years old. Gibril arrived in Canada with his family in February 2014. He has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Among his many patrons at The Art World showcase were youngsters, seniors, couples, and families. One lady who uses a wheelchair (photo) asked quite a few questions, clearly showing delight at meeting Gibril in person. Daelyn, a seven-year-old boy, was bold enough to take the brush from Gibril and try his hand. With his mother watching proudly; Daelyn made brush strokes of his own, as Gibril explained the art of putting acrylic paint to canvas.

The painter making a point

Many people came and met Gibril at The Art World, just by chance. A few others had seen a promotional about the event in the local media. One gentleman told The Patriotic Vanguard that he and his two children were shoppers and were simply curious. “We just want to watch this artist at work,” he said, smiling as he held unto his kids.

Gibril with a young admirer

Gibril returns to Winnipeg shortly. He however hinted that he plans to be back in Edmonton, for a bigger exhibition in 2017.

Gibril and John Pak

On its website (, The Art World is described as “an established authorized art dealer, gallery, and consultant of fine art prints, custom museum quality picture framing, and (featuring) art originals for over 30 years.” The website goes on: "We offer a selection of world renown artists....and are continually adding new artists and styles to our collection," consistent with Saturday’s expos้.

The manager John Pak is a business graduate from the University of Alberta. He runs The Art World with his father, the owner.