all started in the summer of 2001, when I met Francis Boateng,
a Ghanaian sculptor, at a potters' fair in northern France.
He and another Ghanaian were the guests of honour. Francis
was demonstrating modelling people for the public. I was demonstrating
modelling animals. We admired one another's work. Francis
said "If there are any potters who would like to come
to Ghana to see how it is done there..." Well - yes,
there was me.
had been to Africa before, cycle touring with my partner and
our small daughter, but not to work. Working with the same
people day after day you get to know them in a way you never
do as a tourist - who is always just passing through.
to Ghana for almost two months at the beginning of 2003. At
the end of my stay Francis and I staged a joint exhibition
at the Alliance Française in the capital Accra.
the Ghanaians to be a very open and friendly people. Francis
and his family, his friends, and his workers all made me feel
very welcome, and did their utmost to make my stay enjoyable.
My time there was enriching in many ways. As well as working
I also met other people, some of whom I am still in regular
contact with. I discovered a completely different world of
work to the one I'm used to here in France. I work alone.
Francis can easily employ people to do the work that he doesn't
need to do personally. The corruption is apparently less than
in some other African countries, but it is all pervasive.
To succeed you have to "know how to talk" as it
is called. The right palms have to be greased, and by the
right amount - or things don't run to plan... It makes it
very difficult for Ghanaians to make headway in the world!
as my work for the exhibition I also joined in on a ceramic
furniture workshop being run at Aba House while I was there.
Aba is an American woman who runs Cross Cultural Collaborative,
an organisation that runs cross cultural art related workshops
and exchanges. I also did most of the modelling of my pieces
for the exhibition at Aba House.
made some ceramics pieces, but also bronze and brass figures
for the exhibition. I was working at his workshop the day
he was casting some of his bronzes, and it was fascinating
to see his home made fashion of doing it. He was rightly proud
of being the only Ghanaian that casts his own bronzes.