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Egypt Based Artist Gavin Worth Freestanding Wire Sculptures

It took me a heartbeat before I realised that what I was looking at was not in fact large-scale line drawings on a stark white wall, but instead freestanding wire sculptures that look like someone just took a pencil and started sketching in mid air. The evocative, three-dimensional drawings are the work of Egypt based artist Gavin Worth, whom I came across a few days ago courtesy of Aphro Chic.

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Nigerian Batik And Textile Artist Nike Davies Okundaye

Inspired by her great-grandmother, a weaver and Adire textile maker/dyer, Nike Davies Okundaye is one of Nigeria’s most celebrated textile artists and painters, as well as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist whose passion and dedication towards reviving her country’s artistic and cultural heritage is truly inspiring. Traditions are so often passed down from generation to generation in the form of vocational hands-on-training, and this was the case for Nike who received no formal training, instead taking what she learned from her great-grandmother and developing her own skills and style. [Image credit: Reverse Applique Wall Hanging – Nike Centre for Art and Culture]

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Ubuhle A New Form Of Contemporary South African Art Beading

Approaching London’s National Art Gallery last year, situated to the immediate left of the entrance was a living painting. An expanse of wall that had been planted with approximately 25 various species, totalling over 8000 plants that resulted in myriad colours of leaves that had been cleverly arranged to blend in and bring to life Van Gogh’s A Wheatfield, with Cypresses on which it was based; and from afar simply looked like a gaint wall mural. The first time I saw it I did a double take, having not realised I was looking at a ‘lot’ of plants; and going […]

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Art In Action The Tentmakers of Cairo African Textile Art

Today sees the start of Art in Action a four-day annual celebration of art, artists and designers that has been running in the Oxfordshire countryside since 1977. Promoting diversity in creative disciplines, regions and cultures participation is by invite only and sees about 400 artists, designer makers, teachers, performers and musicians demonstrating and selling their creations to art lovers. Grouped into sections according to discipline. In the Commonwealth Art section Chapungu Sculpture Park is showcasing the work of, and presenting demonstrations from some of Zimbabwe’s master stone sculptors. Another section is the International Tent, which showcases artists drawn from across the globe and this […]

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Loman Art Upcycled Creations Contemporary African Art

Creating poetry, songs and works of art, designer Loman Pawlitschek is the embodiment of the term ‘creative spirit’. Creating mobiles and other decorative art features like mirrors, Loman is committed to upcycling, taking unwanted and discarded scrap metals and materials, turning them into functional contemporary African art objects of value. Originally from Australia, Loman and her family moved to South Africa for a few years where she worked as an interior decorator, before moving to Dakar, Senegal where she has lived for four years; and where her business Loman Art is based. Dakar has been a source of inspiration for Loman who […]

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Gayle Garner Roski Zulu Basket African Inspired Art Series

American artist Gayle Garner Roski creates vibrant watercolours based on subjects drawn from her many travels and surroundings. Injected with an inherent sense of realism Gayle’s work is incredibly life-like, capturing minute details in her often emotive work. In her Zulu Basket African inspired art series, Gayle captures the beauty and skill of basket weaving, and the intricate details of the weave and patterns. The vivid watercolours give the baskets a luminous quality. I keep imagining the paintings rendered in glass and set into a door, window or glass wall. Gayle shows her work at Tirage, a Fine Art Gallery in Pasadena, California.

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Toni Okujeni Contemporary African Art Village des Artes Senegal

En route to Dakar’s airport is Village des Artes; a thriving contemporary African art community of artists, painters, sculptors based in former worker cottages that have been turned into art studio/workshops, with a central gallery holding exhibitions. The set up and atmosphere of the place took me back to my days at the art department at Harare Polytechnic; fresh out of high school and preparing to embark on a creative career but uncertain of what I wanted to be, and seizing the opportunities to dabble in printmaking, life drawing, painting, ceramics and more whilst surrounded by fellow creatives in the same […]

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Contemporary African Art Senegalese Artist Papa Ibra Tall

Several months ago I coveted a dress made out of gorgeously colourful clashing prints, alas no available size meant it remained on the hanger, but was reminded of the distinctive print when I saw some stunning tapestries by renowned Senegalese artist Papa Ibra Tall, whose exhibition opening was one of the first I stumbled upon during Dak’art 2012. Held at the Place du Souvenir, the event was a retrospective of sorts celebrating the artist’s long career in international and contemporary African art, a lively well attended occasion that saw guests milling about observing the art and enjoying the warm evening, serenaded by the jazzy sounds of the National […]

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Mbare Colourful Contemporary African Art Metal Masks

    A modern take on the ceremonial masks found across the African continent, these colourful contemporary African art  Masks were made by members of the Improved Arts Metal Sculpture Project, a business based in Harare, Zimbabwe that was founded by the Mhankha Brothers in 1986, who upon discovering their artistic talents sought to depict African natural history through their innovative metalwork creations, that are made from old tin cans and other scrap metals gathered from businesses in Harare’s industrial areas.

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Traditional African Art Vintage Yoruba Beaded Chairs

Shabby Chic® refers to objects that have made it through the years, passed through from generation to generation and despite looking a little worn round the edges, exude a familiar comforting feeling cloaked with an air of faded grandeur and elegance but are still well-loved, appreciated for where they have come from and the stories they tell, this is often seen with family heirlooms as well as newer items that have purposely been distressed to achieve the look and feel. Shabby Chic® originated in the 1980s when British designer Rachel Ashwell, used the words to describe her brand of style and interior […]

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Decorative Doors Traditional Functional African Art

Fed up after the deafening sound of another slammed door, my sister took her kids to task telling them that when she was a child, also going round slamming doors my dad, also having had enough would tell her ‘…you must treat a door with respect, it lets you out [to achieve and experience things in the world] and it keeps you safe [protecting you from the dangers that can enter]’ wise words indeed and even today as grown adults we still get stern looks from my Dad should we happen to ‘accidentally’ slam a door in his presence. By […]

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African Art Heritage Rwanda’s Striking Imigongo Panels

Once upon a time in the Rwandan Province of Kibungo lived Prince Kakira; son of the King of Gisaka. The Prince was inspired to decorate and beautify the houses around him, using natural materials to paint decorative motifs directly on walls. The result was the beginning of an artistic legacy dating back to the 19th Century. Known as ‘Imigongo‘, striking black and white geometric patterns were created on the wall surfaces and complemented with shades of burgundy and ochre. The remains in Rwanda’s contemporary African art scene.

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Art Mosaics Inspired By Elle Decoration South Africa Cover

I tend to associate mosaics with water, probably has to do with the fact that I have mostly seen them in bathrooms, kitchens, fountains and adorning the sides of swimming pools; but from a visual point of view the patterns and colours seem to have a distinctive flow to them when forming what ever subject matter is being portrayed. Courtesy of SafariFusion’s blog, I came across some beautifully detailed mosaics by Namibian company, Forest Mosaic. The finely crafted mosaics are the work of Chiharu Rosenberg, a Japanese mosaic artist who relocated to Omaruru, Namibia where she now has her studio. [Image sources: top, Forest Mosaic Flower […]

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Artist Emily Lamb African Wildlife Conservation Awareness

I recently read a report stating that the Western Black Rhino is now extinct in West Africa and that the last known Java Rhino is also believed to be extinct; shocking and so sad to think about. Despite unsettling headlines like this concerted African wildlife conservation efforts in other areas has seen endangered species start to pick up in numbers, but for this to happen it takes factors like time, dedication, education, community and off course funds! Yes, there is more to Africa than safari; but how marvellous the variety of wildlife the continent is blessed with, and I can’t help but […]

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Lawson Oyekan British Nigerian Contemporary Ceramic Sculptor

Until Friday 11 November 2001, the lobby of One Canada Square in Canary Wharf London plays host to the ceramic creations of British / Nigerian contemporary ceramic sculptor Lawson Oyekan. Regular visitors to Canary Wharf may already be familiar with Lawson’s work, the artist has had four ceramic sculptures on permanent display as part of Canary Wharf’s permanent art collection for a while now, and this current exhibition sees some of his more recent works going on display alongside them in a showcase of the artist’s talent and evolving ideas. Lawson’s pieces are organic ranging from towering monolithic forms to beautifully etched […]

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Contemporary Ceramic Art Gloria Ssali Pursuing Her Artistic Dream

A long held passion for clay saw Ugandan-born ceramicist, Gloria Ssali give up a career as a pharmacist to pursue her dream fulltime time. Having moved to the UK with her family aged eleven; it was during a class she took during her senior school years that Gloria was first introduced to clay modelling and was instantly drawn into the craft. To achieve her goal of becoming a full-time artist, four years ago Gloria returned to college to train as a ceramicist experimenting with techniques and learning about the different types of clay. Describing her career change as a new chapter in […]

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Darkroom London Ndebele Wall Art Print Inspiration

The bold and highly distinctive geometric patterns adorning the walls of traditional Ndebele buildings have provided the inspiration for some colourful Ndebele wall art print series. Created by Rhonda Drakeford, Creative Director of acclaimed London store Darkroom; the prints are A1 in size, printed onto Enhanced Velvet paper and make use of the Giclée printing process; a spraying/squirting technique used for large format work, one that is not dissimilar to how an inkjet printer works. Giclée prints use special light fast inks that if kept out of the sun should hold the colour for about 25 years.

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Contemporary African Art The Zata Family Master Wood Carvers

To some it may simply be a piece of wood of little or no significance beyod being gathered and thrown onto a fire, but in the hands of a member of the Zata Family it becomes a work of contemporary art; the shape of the wood dictating the eventual sculpture. The organic forms of gnarled and twisted, or smooth and shiny wood give way to slender sculptural figures, furniture and other inspired carvings of contemporary African art. Through their work the Zata Family sculptors celebrate the beauty of nature, echoing the process of Zimbabwe’s stone sculptors who are renowned for working on a […]

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Contemporary Nigerian Art Ibeabuchi Ananaba Evocative Paintings

I have spent the past few months reconnecting with my creative self; using the summer to indulge in strolls along the Southbank taking in the various open-air exhibitions, going to the theatre and visiting galleries and getting up to date with developments in contemporary African art scene. Speaking of the galleries I visited the National Portrait Gallery recently, a place I’ve always wanted to go but somehow over the years never made it through the doors; I can’t work out why considering how often I’ve been to others like the Tate. Portraiture fascinates me; the way an artist can capture a person’s likeness […]

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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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  • Colourful basketry, soulful sculpture and an elegant candle make a nice placeholder we think, as we prepare to usher in a new chapter of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Gifted hands. A glimpse behind the scenes of Kaross a South African based embroidery initiative, whose artisans transform furnishings into works of art. [📷 credit: Kaross]
  • Tools of the trade, a hand carved printing block stamp by textile designer @juliekouamo whose evocative designs tell the stories of cultures past and present. Julie's textiles feature richly layered patterns, textures and printed pictures that come together to create vibrant collages. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]
  • Fishermen's boats, a familiar sight along the Senegalese coast line. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]

Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive