New skills expand Togolese artists’ horizons

Training workshop by trainer Sokey (left) and exchange between artists from Togo and Burkina Faso (right) © Coalition Togolaise pour la Diversité Culturelle

A Government of Togo study recently concluded that the nation’s cultural industries were embryonic and in need of investment. In an effort to bolster industries in the arts and crafts sector, the Togolese Coalition for Cultural Diversity launched an effort to develop the technical and business skills of talented practitioners. UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity supported the non-governmental organization’s vital project.

Scores of artists got hands-on experience during a series of workshops on visual art techniques and emerging digital arts. The training included: digital painting techniques; photography work; and using the Internet for inspiration; as well as using social media to promote creations, among others.

Participating artist, Daa-iyatou Kandé Adam-Nekere, said she has started viewing her work and the related possibilities with fresh eyes. “I learned to not just do batiks … I learned to do abstract designs and use geometric figures in my representations,” she said. “It opened my mind and gave me ideas on how to make models of pagnes textiles – which we adore so much in Africa because they show the beauty of Africans and because they are part of our identity,” she enthused.

A study tour took the young batik designer and her peers to visit artists in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. For many, the visit to their northern neighbors was the first time they had left their towns and the artistic exchange proved a source of great inspiration.

“The tour to Burkina Faso allowed me to see the differences between what the Burkinabe do and what we do in Togo. For example, they use jentig in batik, which we do not know here in Togo. It is one example among many that shows the diversity of Burkinabe art; I was greatly inspired by the trip,” Ms Adam-Nekere said.

Exhibitions of participants’ works, notably at the Togo Arts and Crafts Fair in Lomé in December 2011, raised the participating artists’ profile. The three-day event provided artists with a local and national platform, and the opportunity to mix with community members and professionals.

Both Ms Adam-Nekere and Komlan Modenu, a young participant painter, have since started their own workshops. Taking part in this initiative has enabled them and their peers to improve their abilities and expanded their creative horizons.

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