script> Africa Moto: July 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Art: We Face Forward

The We Face Forward exhibition is currently showing at the Manchester Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery from June 2 to September 16, 2012. The exhibition features large scale contemporary art, photography, paintings, sculptural installations, sound and textiles from over 30 artists from around West Africa. Some of the featured artwork like the Mali studio photography and work by George Osodi I saw at the Les Recontres de Bamako exhibition in Bamako last year and found it to be simply amazing. What a great opportunity for the world to discover contemporary African art as they visit the London Olympics.


calligraphy installations by Aboubakar Fofana

Romuald Hazoume

Nnenna Okore

Duro Olowu

George Osodi showcases the Niger Delta



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shop Love: 33 Rue Majorelle

I came across the Marrakech, Morocco based concept store, 33 Rue Majorelle in this month's issue of Dwell Magazine.  Opened in 2010, the shop was founded by Yehia Abdelnour and Monique Bresson and features colorful modern homewares and clothing from over 50 mainly local contemporary designers who blend Moroccan craftmanship with modern design. The shop is located across the street from Majorelle Gardens, once owned by fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent (and his final resting place).

While shopping in the souks is fun and a must see, it can be a bit overwhelming with its myriad of goods on sale and the need to haggle. That is feeling I get sometimes with the marches (markets) in West Africa, they can be a lot of fun but you have to be ready for it. They are times you just want a calm environment with carefully curated selection of goodies, such as 33 Rue Majorelle. The space is made up of the boutique 3 speaces, the boutique, an art gallery, called "Le Salon" and a snack bar, "Kaowa" (which means coffee).

Here are some of my favorites from the shop!

loving the tea artwork, porcelain teapots and cups 
 Pretty selection of throw pillows to brighten up your couch
Raffia  made Shoes exclusive to 33 Rue Majorelle      
  Love these cute bags by Lalla Marrakech
Lovely colorful baskets
  A colorful hat perfect for the beach

Chez Zoe hand embroidered linens

How cute are these handmade kids toys from Zid Zid Kids
xx Elle

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fashion: Afrofashion

   That's the designer Munnie in one of her designs.
Over two years ago, my French teacher in Bamako introduced me to a Malawian fashion designer, Mehmuna "Munnie" Schumann. I had been harassing him about sourcing fabric and finding tailors and using every French writing exercise opportunity to write about my proposed fashion and accessories venture. He finally gave in and said I think I need to introduce you to one of my new students, a fashion designer!

So fast forward and I finally meet Munnie, one of the warmest, creative and free spirited people you will ever meet. We became friends fast and were soon running around discovering the Malian fashion and textile landscape together. Planning fashion shows including the Centre Cultural Francais show that was scheduled for the end of March that didn't end up happening because of the political situation, shopping for trim and fabric at the Grande Marche and discovering the best traditional weavers, dyers and tailors. It wasn't always fun, we made some mistakes along the way but we learned a lot on the journey of making our products locally and ethically. Her clothes are produced at her atelier in Bamako, Mali and in Malawi.

So I am so excited that my girlfriend Munnie will be showing her brand Afrofashion, inspired by the beauty of Africa at the Africa Fashion Week London next month. I hope those of you across the pond in Londontown will check out her show. I am sure it will be a good one!

    (Recognize the model, that's me in a Afrofashion design.)

  At the Santa Marche Fashion show last December.

        Me again, I simply LOVE this afro-modern dress. It's made from bazin, the shiny fabric that all Malians  love, with Afrofashion's signature matte at the bottom.

 For those who can't make it to London, you can check out their website . P.S. they also make wedding dresses!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Art & Culture: Sante Fe International Folk Art Festival

The Sante Fe International Folk Art festival is here and starts tomorrow! It's expected to have a huge turnout. I wish I was going, there is so much I would have loved to see, can you imagine all those quality international arts and crafts in one place. I die! My favorite world arts and crafts magazine HAND/EYE will be there too.  It would be like being transported to all those different countries by the crafts while still being right here in the US. Just too many balls in the air right now though with our life changes. I encouraged my friend's niece who is in New Mexico for the summer and studying International Relations (my major!) in college to volunteer, hope she took my advice. Last year's market had over 20,000 visitors including buyers from West Elm and Donna Karan, and the artists made over $2.3 million dollars in sales, now that's commerce in action.

Here are some of my favorite African artisans showing at Sante Fe this weekend that you must see:

   The Roots Project from Juba, South Sudan with their beaded jewelry. The picture above is of a Dinka beaded corset.

   Touareg jewelry from Moussa Albaka a silversmith from Agadez, Niger. 

Esther Mahlangu ("mama Esther") a talented Ndebele artist will be there. I simply love and respect her art work. She did a wonderful collaboration with Melissa, a Brazilian shoe brand that was featured on the blog She Breathes. I still want those shoes.

           and Aboubakar Fofana from Mali with his indigo designs. Totally regret not going to check out his workshop in Mali. My friend, a Canadian textile designer who interned with him called him "the master". Now that's quite the statement..

Well enjoy!

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