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West African Textiles



it's really difficult back in Ghana it's really difficult easily love talent but they don't get to sell there yeah whereas here there's a lot of opportunities not an opportunity like this room it's becoming really important part of the buying process now where you saw the clothes when social items from home it becomes fashionable business things become popular and this is what's happening now the vibrancy makes me feel happy it's not walking around with no piece of Africa I feel happy until very comfortable because I like this color listen to remember my country because I'm a country people use bright colors mustard feels good and I like seeing more that's why I have to see my little African material today my work in art history I'm very interested in the relationship between the visual arts and the verbal arts and so that was something that really led me to study a Dhingra cloth because each of the symbols are connected to a proverb or an historical narrative I've been more interested in some of the ones that are popular today to see how the meanings have changed and how people have given new meanings to them we all become in quite sophisticated consumers now a lot of people started to think about the items that they buy where they come from has made them where the people that make them happy I don't want to wear clothes that were made by unhappy children from other parts of the world I don't think it's necessary Africa is no longer just a seasonal trend Africa is a huge growing market the luxury market is growing exponentially Africans have money they travel they like to buy quality products they like to share their wealth you there's really a thousand-year tradition of and woven textile production in West Africa maybe maybe longer than that archeological research in West Africa is not comprehensive so you have data from places where it's happened and great expanses with no data but what we do know is that at least a thousand years ago we begin has been noted in West Africa I'll curious if recovered spindle worlds from spinning cotton so hands bun cotton is the main material used in West African weaving and the main dye is indigo at least you can see indigo dye cotton adere the Yoruba word just means tie and dye we tie and dye idea emerged in the early 20th century as an elaboration on much older traditions of resist dyeing in indigo that's really the basis of almost all a textile traditions in West Africa what I have here is a ball of dried indigo leaves the leaves will be collected again from a plant which does grow wild but could be cultivated and grown in plantations if local demand was there for it the leaves were dried and formed into these balls the balls were then mixed with the alkaline mixture you know either a pot or a pit sunk into the ground depending where there were two traditions really and then they fermented and produced a dye but you could just make simple patenting by tying stones and seeds in a cloth and buying it and this was created by resisting the die not by tying stands in but by painting starch onto the surface of the cloth so all this design was painted by hand using feathers and tweaks and things like that so those are really the basis from which very diverse texts our traditions emerged across much of West Africa the pan spun cotton is woven on a what's called a narrow strip loom by men my male Weaver's to produce a long continuous strip of cloth which can then be cut into the desired length in this form as a kind of spool of cloth it functioned as film currency and many parts of West Africa there are old photographs of camel caravans with sort of meter wide discs of cloth fish to the side of them and you could buy things either with the whole spool or you could cut off a length and buy things depending on what you wanted to buy here we have various resist dyed cloths on the top a cloth from the eastern side of Nigeria on the border of Cameroon worn by men in a sort of men's society where they had masquerading and it was a sort of Elders society you see figurative patterning on these you also see signs drawn from a script that developed in the Niger Delta called something like and CBD I can't pronounce it very well but quite an interesting script motif is reproduced on some of these cloths West African textiles many of them are quite obscure because it's in understudied an underappreciated area I mean when people think about African textiles a lot of people think about wax prints which are really a small section of what is a long history of imported textiles coming into West Africa from Europe from America and so much for American from Europe from India from the Middle East from across the Sahara I bought and traded cetera but there is also a much older tradition of local textile production some aspects of which people know about such as Kente and Woggle on but if one looks beyond the very familiar types there's a whole sort of panoply of interesting things going on and it's an area where you know I've been interested in it for twenty twenty-five years and I still see things every few months that I've not seen which for me I chose a dink RAF because for me it was very much synonymous with printing you see various print techniques in which it is applied Kente involves weaving which is a technique that I I know about but I'm not a weaver by any means so for me adding hair and screen printing makes sense oh yeah is a symbol that I've used across a lot of my designs it's a symbol I find very simple but very beautiful it's very strong yet fragile and meaning Allah is the word the Adinkra word and symbol for firm the plan and fans are known to grow in very difficult climates or difficult circumstances so they're known for their resilience and endurance and that's everything that I as an ad in crest symbol represent and this idea of you know being strong and overcoming we all have challenges to deal with so imagine a cushion that you lean on after a tough day and you know symbolically it's saying to you be strong you've got this is a beautiful thing another symbol that I have loved using is ketchup ha and ketchup I literally means good bed and so it's a bit of a cheeky one the proverb says he or she that has a good bed has a good marriage and I don't think there's anything wrong with that so we like that one chlamydia is a symbol that represents measurement and control and you know seeking quality control in all of our endeavors so I've really abstracted it here so you wouldn't necessarily see it straight off to look at but this idea of offsetting two different colours against one another there's something in African textiles a process known as accidentally on purpose this whole idea that when you do something by hand you cannot recreate it doesn't have the same precision as a machine but there's a beauty in that so you'll see that you know it's slightly offset and offset differently according to each motif that you look at there are symbols that mean measurement and to encourage quality control so seeking your best in your beer practical endeavors your academic endeavors your life endeavors one of the symbols we're playing with today means unburnable so this whole idea of nothing can bring you down nothing can destroy you and I like that everything that I've looked at has been about encouragement been about being empowered feeling strong yet recognizing our human fragility as well so for me it's important that Alma Designs continues to grow and evolve and the home our personal living spaces doesn't stop with cushions there are so many other things and for me the next best step was wallpapers so today we're having fun creating wallpaper samples playing with colors playing with new symbols playing with textures and thinking of ways in which the the symbols and their meanings can be interpreted into the home wallpapers are a great way to make a visual statement an artistic statement they can be as subtle as you like or they could become you know your own at home mural on your wall so it's your walls are what you see you sitting within your home or your living space you see your wall so I thought why not translate what Alma designs is doing onto the wall space and see what that can become so I'm really excited about the color schemes that are using I make a point not to follow trends I'm aware of them but it's very much about following my own narrative and hopefully people buy into that screen printing is a very manual process and it's not for the faint-hearted it's 95 percent preparation and 5% execution so you know you can find that you spend three-quarters of your day just setting up the print but without taking that care and time you know that there's no point rushing for that 5% of the print because it just won't come out as you would hope you know every process is labored in the sense that you know after a screen print you have to wash your screen this is done by hand there's different people here at Ivo the people are working on different parts of the whole production process so you know it's really nice there is a chain effect you get into a rhythm and you know it's almost like you know everyone is working with you in a chain to achieve this final goal which is a really nice thing and I think it's also something that the public doesn't get to see people buy things off the shelf and they don't really understand the process that was taken to get it to that stage so you know I think it's really important for people to be aware that there a lot of work goes into this and there's a beauty and there's a value to that to create baccala you have two pence this cotton weave mud bog Allah means paint with mud they are often also met two other people will come and see a boggle or artist of arugula master and ask them to create a piece for a special occasion the story on the piece will be according to the person family story the person tribal background the place they come from the things that they achieve in their life their role in the community and all these different things this is an example of traditional piece each print is actually a symbol each symbol got its own meaning and all together they create a story so here we've got like a cross you can see here you've got another type of print which is another type of symbol this is another type of symbol and I've got another meaning this one as well this type of shapes if you we've properly you will weave with a rhythm and you will create a music and it is a very important part of the process Boogaloo has healing properties he is due to the elements used to pants which are plant gaddama and clay mud that's why we call it mud cloth they say that Boggan all is a protection when you wear bog along you are protected and you attract the universe of the nature protection you are wearing the spirit of nature so therefore you are protected most of the time when a baby is born the first the first place the baby would be put is in a piece of Feeney Magoo a piece of white cotton oh they're gonna have their own Boogaloo the MERM will be making the booger long while being pregnant Begala are warned in Mali from many different occasion and they actually play a very important part in the community and spiritual life they are worn for special occasions such as wedding birth ritual for young people to become adults wearing iboga law is a spiritual statements and with BOGO now very often you will have an interpretation of animal prints of animal fur bacalao play a very important part in hunters life they are a higher caste in the society and they are respected for their knowledge they communicate with nature they know nature they know animals they know their habits they know how they react because they observe because they spend so much in the nature and Bergeron is a big part of their life and there's actually one type of burger and that is reserved to them they would wear also this type of design because they're very good camouflage on one side you have the textile as a peace of heart as a design we've symbol that we can identify as just patterns and prints on the other side you can consider it as symbols writing system and therefore storytellers there's much more than just the aesthetic part of the textile there is saying in the balm Bahama taraji saying that bow gonna exist since the beginning of the world so it's always been there as a designer is a privilege for me to have such textile to work with is very important for me to be able as well to spread and share the story about those textile and this is what I'm all about and what my brand is all about is to show the diversity of textile from Africa about putting love in what I do each each of my design as its own story because of the textile use and then the rest of the story is about the people that I work with it's about me it's about my vision of fashion is about my life between Paris London Africa is my life as a woman as a mom is all those stories are inside the design and it is very important for me to be able to share that you

7 Comments

  1. Jack Diamond

    The UnAfrican-ness of Africa’s Fabric
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/nadege-seppou/the-unafricanness-of-afri_b_9801874.html?guccounter=1

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/design/2012/03/african_fabric_where_do_tribal_prints_really_come_from_.html

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