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Aba House where I worked in Ghana Aba House
Aba and her dog Bodum Aba and Bodum
ceramic stool making workshop at Aba House Bamboo stool
Francis' kiln being loaded Packing the kiln
burying a plaster mould for bronze casting in the workshop courtyard Burying a mould
molten bronze is a beautiful colour Molten bronze
Bronze head

It 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.

I 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.

I went 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.

I found 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 well 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.

Francis 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.

Want to know more ?
Aba House
  Francis' Bronzes
  My Work (in Ghana)


Me and Ghanaian sculptor Francis Boateng Me and Francis
The hands stool I made at the ceramic furniture workshop at Aba House Furniture workshop
sculptor Francis Boateng making wax models for bronze casting Francis at work
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Helen Robinson and Gigliola Caneschi sitting on my two ceramic stools Two warm stools
Francis Boateng's bronze sculpture of the disarmed warrior Bronze figure of the disarmed warrior


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