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About the Artwork

Map-of-Africa-editAll of our artwork comes from regions of Africa and is representative of traditional styles practiced for centuries. Some of the work puts a modern spin on these old styles, while some adheres to time-honored techniques and methods. Below are some of the regions that are represented in our gallery.

Senegal

Senegal is famous for its talented artisans who can be found in the major markets, creating and selling their wares. Beautiful gold, silver, and bronze jewelry are exquisitely crafted. Antique beads and large amber necklaces, traditionally worn by the Fulani women, can be found in the markets and antique shops.
The Blacksmiths constitute the socio-professional group that made the tools, the jewelries, and other materials, using steel, iron, gold, and other metals.

Had the Senegalese society followed a normal path of socio-economic development, the Blacksmiths would perhaps be the metallurgical industrials of Senegal today.

Baskets, pottery, hand-woven fabrics with incredibly intricate patterns are renowned great buys. Leather, iguana, crocodile and snake skins are used to create handbags, shoes, belts and other accessories. The Cobblers have been busy with transforming animal skins. They made shoes, harnesses and other materials from animal skins. They certainly would have been the big makers of a Senegalese brand of Nike, Reebok, or Bata, today.

Gambia

They include people who have created some original contemporary works on canvasses, sketches, drawings and lithographs from the likes of Momodou Ceesay, Baboucarr Etu Ndow, Njogu Touray, Malick Ceesay, Edrisa Jobe, Alhajie Bubacarr Badgie, Toyimbo, Moulaye Sarr, Papa Alassane Gaye as well as lesser known talents.

Batik Some of them represent the Avant-garde of the current art movement in the Gambia who use there own individual, innovative techniques and styles. For example Etu prefers to use on his canvases objects he finds in his natural surroundings, Modou Ceesay prefers to work in the abstract using synthetic acrylics and water-colours and Malick conveys stylized African figures on canvass.

Gambian society has laid great emphasis on the art of griot storytelling and music but has shied away from the visual arts of paintings whether in water colours, oil paintings or offset lithography. However, the past few decades has seen the growing emergence of a handful of prominent, talented and renowned local Gambian artists as well as some who are based internationally.

Sand painting Among the lesser know creative talent you can find paintings which choose to portray and focus on subjects from local society or international issues. However, many are aimed directly at the tourist market which can have a un-original and formulaic feel but can be bought at bargain prices. Keep an eye out for up-and-coming talents such as Mustapha Jassey, Abdoulie Colley, Lamin Dibba.

Art dealers and collectors have in this century come to the conclusion that there is none 1 monolithic Gambian school of art. Artists of Gambian descent, just as all artists do, choose creative expressions that reflect their individual artistic, social and intellectual concerns. Today the country’s artists explore their heritage, their culture and art itself in a wide variety of art forms and media. The arts market is more concerned more with the quality of the work itself and less with the style.

Reverse-glass painting in Gambia flourishes today as a commercial, touristic art form, but this was not always the case. Well before the 1960s, it was mainly a local art for local consumption. There has been a dual move away from the earlier focus on Islamic religious topics to more secular modern themes such as portraits, domestic scenes and general social commentary.

Thanks to major international exhibitions in recent years Gambian tribal artists have gained in popularity among connoisseurs. At the beginning of the 20th century this new form was already arousing great interest among collectors and artists alike; and at a time when it was seen as the innocent cultural creations of primitive peoples, Picasso, was already drawing inspiration from the strikingly new qualities of form. Over the past 10 years market globalization and the World Wide Web have heightened the interest of collectors and scholars in objects from West Africa.

Ghana

The art and culture of Ghana is replete with the traditional folklore of the country which has long been a part of its intrinsic identity. Like the other countries of Africa, Ghana boasts of wide array of traditional forms of art, each having a particular significance of their own.

With a glorious history of more than 300,000 years the country of Ghana has been inhabited by different ethnic groups at different times. This invasion has left behind some impressive marks in the evolution of the art and cultural scenario of the country. Evidences indicate that towards the middle of 13th Century, Akan Kingdoms rose to prominence in Ghana with their empires being extended even to the far off coastal lands. In 1471, the Portuguese traders arrived in this part of Africa in search of gold and ivory initially lured here by the trade in ivory and gold. They continued to rule for a considerable period of time and their intermingling with the local cultures led brought about a radical change in cultural spheres of Ghana. The Akan kingdom contributed a lot towards the up gradation of the social culture of the country through the construction of a series of historic monuments which are now an important part of its great heritage and serves the dual purpose of being a popular architectural landmark of the country.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a land of masks; most of the major peoples in the region, with the notable exceptions of the Gurmantché and the Lobi, use masks. The materials and techniques used to fashion masks are quite similar throughout.

Although several types of wood are used to carve masks and figures, most masks throughout the region are carved from the wood of the Ceiba pentandra (Linn.) Gaertn., which is called “cotton tree”,”silk-cotton tree”, or “ceiba”. The wood is fairly soft and fine-grained, like pine, so it is easy to carve. It is very light, which makes it suitable for masks that are to be worn, especially big masks such as the tall Bwa serpent or enormous plank masks. Unfortunately, the wood is very susceptible to insect damage, and masks must be carefully protected by annual soaking to kill insects. These trees are becoming rare in central Burkina because of the carving of many masks, both for traditional use and for the tourist trade, and artists are obliged to travel long distances into game preserves or toward the north to find trees of a useful size. In contrast to earlier reports in the popular literature on African art, no group in Burkina use the wood of the kapok or baobab trees, for the grain of their wood is far too coarse and prone to splitting.

Among most of the peoples in Burkina Faso, masks are worn with a thick costume made of the fibers of the Hibiscus cannabinus or Cannabinus indica, which is called in French, “chanvre de Guinea” and in Jula “da”, and kenaf in the United States. The plants are cultivated in fields of millet, and are harvested just before the annual period when masks perform. Bundles of the woody stems are carried to wet swampy areas where they are soaked, held down by stones, until the bark and pith rots, leaving only the fibers (bpon in Nuni). The loose fibers are plaited into cords which are knotted into a netlike body stocking. Bundles of loose fibers are then bound to the net to form a bulky costume that the Nuna call wankuro, “the fur of the mask.” The fibers may be dyed before assembling the costume. Black is obtained from the fermented seed pods of the Acacia nilotica. Red is from the dye concentrated at the joints of the stalks of the millet Penisetum colorans. These costumes are usually renewed every year, and their manufacture is the major task of the young men’s initiation groups. During periods of extreme drought, as in 1984-5, there is not enough standing water to make new costumes, and fewer masks may dance, or the costumes become rather disheveled.

South Africa

Solid brass and copper are the base materials of the product. By applying extreme heat, the artisans create the interesting patterns and effects on the jewelry. No dyes are used. Each item is entirely handmade and a one of-a-kind piece of art. By South African Artisans.