Having gotten fully in the swing of Ghana, and finding a surprising number of old friends, I am grounded here again. My brother and his friends will be arriving in a short five days, and I am getting things all lined up for us. I am so excited for them to come.
After getting out of Accra, have been staying in pottery villages. I spent a week in a town called Kpando, in the jungly and Muggy Volta region, where woman are making pottery using traditional methods. I came to this town in particular, because they make ceramic work that is Black and shiny, like raku fired work. I came to see exactly what this process was that turned the pottery black. It is in fact a method that is very similar to raku fire, after putting the work in the fire pit “Kiln” they remove it and cover it with sawdust. The smoke blackens the pieces. It is fun to see the different methods, patterns, and tools that are used in different places in West Africa. There is a huge amount of diversity.
I spent a week in Kpando, living with a new friend Evelyn, the sister of the pottery woman who I worked with, and made a few sculptures, just to learn how to fire and use the tools that they use. Then I headed to the coastal town of Winnaba, where I heard there was another pottery village. I was delighted and surprised to discover that Winnaba is no pottery village, but has full scale ceramics facilities, including electric and raku kilns, an incredible wood-fired kiln and some of the most knowledgeable people I have met as far as west african pottery is concerned. Not only that, but Richard, the manager, did a PHD on Ghanian ceramics in the 60’s, and is also extremely kind and inviting. I stayed with is wonderful family for 4 days, and learned a lot. I will definitely be going back there when I have a camera again! They are even creating a method of firing using palm nuts instead of wood, which fire hotter and don’t require cutting down trees. I unfortunately got quite sick there for a couple days, and plan to take Malaria pills from now on through the wet season, because Malaria twice in a month and a half is TOO much.
From Winnaba, I continued on to Mpiasm, a Village next to Cape Coast, where I used to live in 2005. Having not stayed in touch with anybody in the town, I didn’t really expect to know anybody, but I have found 3 friends already- Who I recognized, and who recognized me! It is such a pleasant surprise! I am staying here to visit for one day more, and then heading back to Winnaba to make a sculpture for my Hosts there, in exchange for their kindness, before going to get my brother and company in Accra.
It will be fun to travel with them, and I am looking forward to showing them around Ghana, as well as exploring Togo and Benin with them. They will also be bringing a lot of supplies, including a new video camera…. So I can continue with artist interviews, and taking photos! Hurray for that!