African Art-Often a Battle for Survival
Informal Art in Africa
Africa is the second largest continent and also the second most populated one in the world.It faces the problem of great poverty and some of the poorest countries in the world are found here. To many of the population hand crafted "art" pieces are their only source of income.Visiting any African country will introduce you to the local form of Art.
Because of its very diversity the subject of African Art can be a complicated subject as research on the internet will show. With a continent that enjoys 54 recognized countries and even more cultures, one obviously cannot generalize about the continent.
What is obvious in this Southern part of the continent (South Africa) is that there are many talented artists that are using their skills and sometimes limited resources to eek out a living. Over the years we have collected a couple of ‘art pieces’, usually because we liked them and sometimes to contribute to the living of the artist.
What we have found is that the people who make the art pieces often sell them right there where they make them. They use wood, bones, reeds and shells that they find locally.
A second group are those who sell what they buy at the market places in Johannesburg and Durban and then travel to the tourist towns to set up shop. Here masks, paintings, material and carved animals etc. are created in the countries to the north like Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique and then transported by others to the market places in a country like South Africa were they are more likely to be sold. What is sad is to see "family heirlooms" on offer that are obviously sold out of desperation.
Some of the articles like the Helicopter and Land-rover in our collection are carved in great detail with doors that open and wheels that turn. Some of the animals and heads of people show great artistic ability as do the paintings of African Landscapes..
The following photos illustrate the talents of the artists from this part of the African Continent that we have liked and so collected. A trip to Africa would not be complete without taking back something that is genuinely African, and in so doing also contributing to the life of one of the artists and also the sellers.