INSPIRED BY GHANA – AMALAU ARTWORK
Anne Laure is a talented french photographer, she captures amazing shots of everyday life in Ghana in a way nobody else can.
Original, refreshing, colorful and authentic, her pictures are unique and accompanied by poetic texts full of a certain sense of humor that she is well known for as well as a love for Africa that has become her home.
She frames her pictures in wooden frames as well as batik or African print fabric that she exhibits and sells.
We have had the opportunity to interview her, check out her responses below:
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, why did you move to Ghana, how did you set up your project?
I am Anne Laure, I am French from Rouen, the capital city of Normandie. We have lived in Ghana for the last three years and it’s my husband that brought me here, CFAO assigned him a job in Accra.
I am passionate about photography and love walking around and discovering Ghana and it’s different neighborhoods. From the very beginning, I wanted to combine my photography with local know-how and found the idea of framing my pictures with fabrics made in Ghana such as batik and tie and dye.
Covid quickly arrived, I tried to combine home schooling my daughter with my new project. It took a bit of time, the first attempts were not always conclusive but it’s nice to see how they have improved over time.
My first expo took place in January 2020 in the Open House Studio. From there people got to know me a little and the word of mouth started operating, you can find some of my frames at the well-known hairdresser Akeel or at Theia café, Alidesign and more.
Business started slowly and this is how I intended it, I don’t have the capacity to produce 25 frames a month. I produce only a few pieces of each frame, they are not unique models but it’s also not an industrial production.
Initially, the idea is to sell my pictures, embellished by the frame, but I do accept personal requests and frame pictures that people ask me to frame.
I produce between 3 to 7 frames a month, except for a couple months where my craftsman Daniel fell ill and it took me a while to find someone else that could make frames with the same level of quality. I kept all the frames that I tested since the beginning to show customers that it is not that easy to accomplish and that it all took a lot of time to put in place. I am quite happy with the new craftsman I am working with, timelines can still be challenging but he helped me improve the frames and I am satisfied with the quality and finishing.
I pick the fabrics that are used, I even made some of the batik fabrics myself during a workshop. I usually buy my fabrics at Esther’s, she has a big variety of colors and designs whether for the batik fabrics or the tie and dye. Sometimes, depending on the picture, I will pick fabrics elsewhere. I have also just started embroidery with cushions and I decided to add it to some fabrics framing the pictures. It adds a poetic, unique and handmade touch.
My most recent project and expo ‘Addis in Wonderland’ was a little bit different, less traditional and typically Ghanaian life scenes and more of a conceptual style still using the same framing techniques. I chose to take pictures of Addis, my daughter’s dance teacher, that has become a friend and part of the family.
It was a natural evolution of what I want to do, present a project rather than one image. For this expo, I put together a collection of portraits of Addis that were also related to her dance performance. I wanted to put through the relationship we have with others in our differences, our relationship with ourself, our view of others, their view of us as foreigners, the way we adapt, integrate, or not… These are the main elements I wanted to touch through my last project. Rather than the beauty of a landscape or of an external view of life scenes experienced in Accra. I will of course still continue doing these but I would like to show something new and different too. It was a more personal and challenging project in which there is more work in the building of the picture, the editing, the research of harmony with your initial idea. It’s always a challenge to manage to continually renewal of your art work.
What inspires your creativity in general? How do you decide what pictures to frame? What fabric to frame them with? Is it purely instinct or do you have a process?
It’s very instinctive, a feeling for the colors, the landscape, the people that you want to put forward. Some people have asked for the pictures without the frame too, because they prefer it simple without distractions.
The pictures I select are the ones I instinctively have a vision for. Of course, I like all the pictures I post, but there are some that I can directly see what I can do with them. Sometimes clients also have their own requests and they usually turn out very nice so this exchange of ideas is something I really enjoy a lot as well.
Having the opportunity of reinventing an object indefinitely with the different associations of fabrics, pictures, sizes and wood is what I love most.
I pay a lot of attention in the selection of my fabrics, it is very important to me that they are made locally because that is what I also want to promote, the tradition and culture of Ghana. It is very rare that I use wax, but it has happened. I then try to purchase it on the local market and make sure it is made in Ivory Coast or another neighboring countries.
What is the best thing about living in Accra? Do you have any tips to share with us?
Other than the wonderful weather, it’s the colors, the permanent vitality, the buzzing atmosphere. The people are very friendly and they don’t take notice of you. It is very safe to walk around more popular neighborhoods on your own and this is not always the case in other French speaking African countries.
Some people say that Ghanaians are distant and a bit cold, in my case, I found the opposite. I have more Ghanaian friends here than I did Senegalese in Dakar or South African in Joburg. People are open minded and welcoming and as far as you respect and try to understand their ways and codes, a real exchange can happen. People are happy to share.
On the negative side, if I have to give one, I will mention that unfortunately there are not very many cultural activities… Grocery shopping can sometimes be challenging as well.
One place I really love in Accra is the skatepark in East Legon @surfghana.
What’s your favorite spot in Accra to hang out?
There are several! One of my favorite is Akrikiko, the location is great, populated with people from all around, their salsa nights are just crazy, the food is always amazing. Claudio really build a wonderful place. Another family friendly restaurant is Hibiscus. I also like nights out at Mama Cuisine or Skybar, it all depends on the atmosphere and who you are with.
The Polo Club is a very nice place to eat out. In Osu, chez Clarisse is great for some more typical African food. There is also a nice Chinese place in Osu, a little Japanese place in Airport, the Thai House for a lunch in East Legon is lovely. Pantita Thai in Cantonments is also very good.
There are many good places, depends on the occasion and who you are with.
Do you remember your first impressions when you arrived in Ghana? What advice could you give to newcomers?
I was a bit baffled by the traffic in the city, the food stocks in the stores, not knowing where to go to get what. I had to get used to organizing my day in order to centralize what I needed to do and optimize my time based on the traffic. Also when you find the product you like, take a few, you are never sure when they will have more coming.
I like to go to the local street vendors for the fruit and vegetables. There are many little businesses as well that sell various products like fresh eggs, sourdough bread, fresh pasta,… that you find out about by word of mouth little by little. Use these networks to order your goods and have them delivered at home.
My impressions are based on my experience as well, it was not my first time in Africa, I lived in Senegal and South Africa before. I did not have this cultural shock when arriving in Ghana.
If you don’t know Anne Laure’s work yet, please visit her Instagram pages and follow her:
Please feel free to contact us regarding our relocation services or any other questions you may have about settling in to Ghana at firstname.lastname@example.org or +233 (0) 543 566 921.