By Nii B. Andrews.

An old merchant house on the East African island of Lamu houses a spectacular contemporary African Art (CAA) collection assembled with passion by Robert Devereux.

The house is called Sina Jina which translates from the Swahili into English as “A Place With No Name”.

The collection, started from 2003, is phenomenal and contains work executed by high flying creatives from Africa and its Diaspora.

******El Anatsui (b. 1944), Oga I, 2003. Acrylic and found objects on carved wood, in 10 parts. Overall: 38¼ x 41⅜ in (97 x 105 cm). Estimate: £60,000–80,000. Offered in A Place With No Name: Works from the Sina Jina Collection on 13 October 2022 at Christie’s in London*********

Devereux explained that in assembling his collection:

“I have never collected with any real strategy, purpose or plan other than to work with and support artists from the African continent in a relatively early stage of their career.

 I acquire art that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up — it is as simple and as unsophisticated as that.”

The Tate’s Acquisition Fund for African Art appointed him as its first chair in 2012 when the prestigious institution decided that it needed to significantly improve and increase its contemporary offering from Africa in accordance with international best practice.

**** Elias Sime (b. 1968), Untitled, circa 2000s. Hand-stitched cotton, dyed cloth and aluminium bottle cap on canvas. 37⅛ x 61 in (94.5 x 155 cm). Estimate: £40,000–60,000. Offered in A Place With No Name: Works from the Sina Jina Collection on 13 October 2022 at Christie’s in London******

On 13 October, during Frieze Week, A Place With No Name: Works from the Sina Jina Collection will be offered at Christie’s in London. 

A total of 74 lots will be available, making it the largest single-owner CAA collection to ever be offered at auction.

Ranging across a diversity of media, the works present a breathtaking picture of CAA: chain saw and acetylene torch wood works by El Anatsui, gutsy abstractions by Sudanese master Ibrahim El-Salahi, flamboyant self-portraits by Samuel Fosso, woven textile and collage works by Elias Sime, and enigmatic portraits by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

******DOMINIQUE ZINKPÈ (B. 1969); Minuit à Abomey (Midnight in Abomey),inscribed and dated ‘Abomey 11/5’ (upper centre); signed and dated ‘ZINKpe 09’ (lower right); signed, titled and dated ‘Minuit Abomey ZINKPE 09’ (on the reverse), oil and acrylic on canvas; 59 1/4 x 70 3/4 in. (150.4 x 179.8cm.), Executed in 2009;  Estimate GBP 8,000 – GBP 12,000; Offered in A Place With No Name: Works from the Sina Jina Collection on 13 October 2022 at Christie’s in London****

A percentage of the auction proceeds will go towards supporting the work of The African Arts Trust, which intends to use the funds to supplement the work of Gasworks, The Africa Centre, Lamu Environment Fund and Bët Bi.

The above is consistent with Devereaux’s strenuous efforts to foster the development of CAA.

He also feels that it is vitally important for artists to develop strong domestic markets – where currently South Africa and Nigeria are leaders in the field.

The eminent collector emphasises that to start a CAA collection, “The key, is passion: you should never buy for investment.”

The accompanying catalog is a tour de force with texts by leading curators and writers, including Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Christine Eyene, Azu Nwagbogu, and Aurella Yussuf.


A Place With No Name: Works From the Sina Jina Collection; 6 – 13 October 2022

Auction; 13 Oct, 04:00 PM (BST) ,Christie’s, 8 King Street, St. James’s London SW1Y 6QT.


  1. Thanks as always for sharing articles of this kind. I welcome these articles which broaden and deepen one’s knowledge about the invaluable, continent-wide activities which are being undertaken in the artistic realms.

    Who says that Africa’s contribution to civilisation, as expressed through art, is negligible?

    I am delighted to note that Ghanaian artists continue to hold their own.

    I just love El Anatsui’s work.

    As for the Ghanaian lady artist mentioned, I am happy to note that she is among those that have been “counted”!

    However, I am not familiar with her name, Lynette Yiadom Boakye.

    I must find out more about her.

    Last point: I agree entirely that one should collect art because of one’s passion and not because one seeks to make “good ” investments.

    I beg “GOD” that I will NEVER have to sell my modest art collection.

    I am far too attached to my pieces.

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