I've been here barely two day but I have had the opportunity to socialise with artists from the field of fashion, photography, installation and film (to name a few). The project I am here to do is a Fashion and Art workshop, which will take place over the next 7 days.
My first task here was to deliver a presentation on African Fashion, which I almost fell off my seat at hearing. After much deliberation I decided it was too broad a topic and narrowed it down to my area of interest 'Body Image Satisfaction' and 'Identity', I used myself as a case study cause I'm just that vain, lol. Actually it relates a lot to the issues I faced when moving Nigeria, where my challenge was retaining who I was, while in Lagos, something I had struggled to do on previous occassions.
If you know anything about Nigeria you will know that fashion is a very important part of almost every womans life, its not a hobby but a life style. The obsession with brand and elitism are more rife than in England, primarily do to the fact that there is not really a middleclass. Suddenly my casual clothes, that had character in London felt like rags.
I have always expressed myself through my body image and style and I felt challenged as too wether or not I wanted to conform or co-exsist.I choose to learn more about my identity, I examined my style and what message I was giving off. Taking a lot of influence of Pan-African dress/ Afro-centric styles in my dress I asked myself qustions such as 'Am I trying to look African'/ 'was it possible to try too look African when you are African'? At the time I was really into consius hip hop (still am) and came too realise that that I was assimilating the styles I felt fitted into this subculture.
As it happenes I was able to find myself when I lost the need to belong in either the Nigerian high society or the hip hop head crew. In London I had to battle the weather and that really hindered my expression as I get cold really really easily. In Nigeria I embrace the weather and find that it works well for me, in that I dont have to deal so much with layering, but can now stick to lighter fabrics and statement pieces!
We begin work in the Atelier tomorrow I hope to have a final piece at the end of the workshop, if not, I at least hope to have learnt alot from my colleages. I do hope to add images but the internet is acting up tonight.
Oh Pardon, I forgot to say how important language is in this line of work, especially for me as I hope to work extensively in Western Africa. If your thinking of working in Africa its worth having a second language skill such as French, or if your thinking of working in Europe from the continent I advise German, English and French. This trip has seriously challenged me to get my 'Learn french fast' tapes out of the closet and parlez!
Au revoir pour maintenant
ma francais c'est terrible!